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No. 6 Batavia is loose, loaded and ready to defend 7A title

Batavia's Luke Weerts at his linebacker position. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Most schools would be worried about replacing a quarterback with Riley Cooper’s skills and intangibles. He was a dynamic force that helped lead Batavia to the Class 7A state title last season.

Turns out the Bulldogs aren’t worried at all. Cooper had to fight to win the starting job last season.

‘‘A year ago, we didn’t know Cooper was our quarterback,’’ Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. ‘‘He had an unbelievable offseason, and about the second week of practice he cemented himself as the starter.

‘‘Jack Meyers had a little more height, a little more speed and better overall arm strength. Cooper won the job because we just felt our offense ran better when he was in there.’’

The job is all Meyers’ now, and Piron said he expects big things.

‘‘Jack has a calmness, he’s a good leader and the guys like him,’’ Piron said. ‘‘He can really run and has the strongest arm of any quarterback we’ve had here. We’re very excited about him. He’s looked fantastic. He’s throwing the ball with such velocity, our receivers are having to get used to it.’’

Meyers has a stable of tall targets to throw to, including 6-6 tight end Drew Iutzwig, 6-4 Zach Weber, 6-3 William Fitch and 6-6 Devin Cheaney.

Piron said he expects to be able to use his big tight ends and running backs Art Taylor and Trey Urwiler in a power running game.

‘‘The power element will be new this year and really fun,’’ Piron said. ‘‘We will have a nice diverse package on offense.’’

Even with all that firepower, Batavia’s strongest group is at linebacker. All three starters return: Luke Weerts, Quin Urwiler and Northwestern recruit Michael Jansey.

‘‘It’s going to be the best linebacking corps we’ve ever had,’’ Jansey said. ‘‘The big thing we need to replace are the defensive backs. But after the summer and the first week of practice, I’m feeling comfortable with that.’’

Nick Conger returns at safety, and newcomers Jack Carlson and Sam Barus will be expected to step up in the secondary.

‘‘It’s hard to replace two all-state players [Michael Niemiec and Tom Stuttle],’’ Weerts said. ‘‘But me and Jansey being the leaders is helpful. They know if they have any questions, they can come to us.’’

Batavia has football fever. There was a massive crowd on hand for the title game at Huskie Stadium in November. That kind of fan support has given the Bulldogs an extra push and kept the numbers in the program high.

‘‘The culture here is just really good right now, and it is because the kids care about it,’’ Piron said. ‘‘It isn’t about winning at all costs; it is about working together toward a higher cause.’’

Batavia will be in the new DuKane Conference, joining Glenbard North, Geneva, Lake Park, St. Charles East, St. Charles North, Wheaton North and Wheaton-Warrenville South.

‘‘We’re the smallest school in this new conference again,’’ Piron said. ‘‘There are a lot of coaches with a lot of experience in this conference. We’ll have to work a lot harder to score and scheme better to stop them. These guys will have things ready for you week in and week out.’’


Aug. 24 at Lemont

Aug. 31 vs. Naperville North

Sept. 7 vs. Lake Park

Sept. 14 at Glenbard North

Sept. 21 vs. Wheaton-Warrenville South

Sept. 28 vs. Geneva

Oct. 5 at St. Charles East

Oct. 12 vs. St. Charles North

Oct. 19 at Wheaton North

This is the fifth story in the Sun-Times 2018 Football Countdown series. The No. 5 ranked team will be revealed tomorrow.

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