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.’’
- Batavia’s Luke Weerts runs for pass. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
- Batavia’s Luke Weerts at his linebacker position. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
- Batavia’s Michael Jansey at practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
- Batavia’s Michael Jansey cuts off the running back. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
- Batavia’s football team at practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
- Michael Jansey of Batavia in practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
- Batavia’s Michael Jansey catches the ball during practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
- Batavia takes a break from the heat. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
- Batavia. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
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.
More football stories:
- No. 7 Nazareth isn’t too young anymore, just talented and experienced
- No. 10 Lake Zurich moves on from title game heartbreak, reloads
- Explosive Tyquan Cox ready to carry the load for No. 9 Glenbard West
- No. 8 Homewood-Flossmoor raises its defensive standards
Want the latest info and analysis on high school football? Our preps team of Michael O’Brien, Beth Long and Annie Costabile will share all the latest news, insights and Super 25 football rankings in a new livestream show called “Sun-Times Game Week.” Our next preview show is Aug 20 at 4:30 p.m., then the regular season livestream show will be every Monday at 6:30 p.m. starting August 27. Like and follow our high school sports Facebook page to watch the show on FACEBOOK LIVE. You can also ask questions using the hashtag #SunTimesGameWeek.