Athlete of the Week: Ian Bunting

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After basketball ended this spring, Hinsdale Central teammates Ian Bunting and Brian Owens started preparing for football season.

Bunting, a junior receiver, and Owens, a senior quarterback, spent hour after hour working on their timing and it looks like the effort is paying off.

Bunting caught seven passes for 210 yards and touchdowns of 58 and 68 yards on Friday as the Red Devils knocked off Proviso West 34-25 in a West Suburban Silver opener. That helped No. 12 Hinsdale Central remain unbeaten heading into this weekend’s showdown with No. 3 Glenbard West, and earned Bunting Sun-Times Athlete of the Week honors.

With his size — 6-6 and 196 pounds — and speed, Bunting presents a serious matchup problem for opposing defenses and Owens is only too happy to exploit that situation.

“Brian realizes what a weapon Ian is,” Red Devils coach Rich Tarka said. “The first two games, the run dominated our offense. This week, we opened things up. If they want to put too many in the box, we can go over the top a little bit.”

Bunting appreciates the talent that surrounds him.

“Jack Adams, he’s one of the hardest runners I’ve ever seen,” Bunting said. “If you give him even the smallest hole, he’ll get through it. Brian can scramble. That definitely helps to open up the passing game.”

And there are some other capable targets for Owens as well: Joe Herr, Joe Monat and John Claussen.

Then there’s Hinsdale’s massive offensive line of Brian Allen, Chris Wilson, Joe Morrison, Chris Kallas and Nick Piker, who open plenty of holes for Adams and protect Owens.

It was enough to have Bunting itching to get started this season. “I was pumped from the get-go just knowing that we have at every position on the field, we have great talents,” he said.

“I’m expecting the best, but I don’t want to get too over my head. That’s when you fall.”

Another source of inspiration came when Bunting visited Purdue to get acquainted with coach Danny Hope and the Boilermakers’ program. Bunting came home with more than he bargained for, as Hope gave him his first Division I scholarship offer.

“I had been getting some information from schools, [but] I was not really expecting an offer,” Bunting said. “It’s definitely a confidence booster. It makes that target even bigger for the other team. Now they’re telling all their guys, ‘We’ve got to shut this kid down.’ ’’

In Bunting’s case, that’s easier said than done.

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