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Week 1’s four downs

News, notes and observations from the opening weekend of the season.

Batavia’s Quinn Urwiler (34) chases down East. St. Louis’ DaMonta Witherspoon (4).
Batavia’s Quinn Urwiler (34) chases down East. St. Louis’ DaMonta Witherspoon (4).
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

FOUR DOWNS: News, notes and observations from Week 1.

East St. Louis brought a bus load of fans and a team full of high-level athletes to Batavia on Saturday. The first half was an offensive showcase from the Flyers.

Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron describes it well.

“We were getting to the quarterback and hitting him as he was throwing 70-yard rifle shots into the air to guys bursting down the field looking like they were running 100-meter dashes at the state track meet.”

Piron said that East St. Louis and last year’s Nazareth team, the last two teams Batavia has played, are two of the best teams he’s coached against in 30 years. Bulldogs star Quinn Urwiler, a North Dakota recruit, was also impressed.

“They are fast,” Urwiler said. “Hands down probably the best team I’ve ever seen at the high school level. I would expect some of those guys to be playing on Sunday. The speed surprised me a little bit. They came out and balled.”

The Flyers are the state’s all-time wins leader and have nearly a dozen Power Five prospects including Tennesse recruit Javontez Spraggins, Missouri recruit Kevon Billingsley, Antonio Johnson, Lawaun Powell, Dominic Lovett, Keontez Lewis and quarterback Tyler Macon.

East St. Louis scored four touchdowns in the first 13 minutes and led 25-3. Batavia found its footing in the second quarter and Urwiler scored on a 41-yard touchdown run. The Flyers led 31-17 at halftime and both teams were scoreless in the second half.

A game that appeared to be heading into rout territory wound up looking like a slight moral victory for the Bulldogs.

“They are kids,” East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. “We had early success and I think we took our foot off the pedal a bit.”

Nazareth’s undefeated dream season dashed

Preseason top-ranked Nazareth lost to St. Louis Cardinal Ritter 32-21 on Saturday in LaGrange Park. It wasn’t the start that Roadrunners quarterback JJ McCarthy was hoping for after proclaiming his goal for an undefeated season.

Cardinal Ritter, one of the top teams in Missouri, forced McCarthy into four interceptions. The Michigan recruit only threw three picks last season.

Hinsdale Central grounds the Redhawks

Naperville Central’s offense was expected to be one of the area’s most dominant units this season. That’s still possible, but it wasn’t the case on Friday.

Hinsdale Central knocked off the Redhawks 14-6. Naperville Central managed just 77 rushing yards and 93 passing yards.

It’s possible that junior quarterback Sam Jackson and his stable of talented young receivers, several of which are transfers, might need some time to get on the same page. They don’t have that much time though, top-ranked Lincoln-Way East comes to town on Friday.

Road woes

Three teams in the preseason top 10 lost to out of state teams. Nazareth lost to Cardinal Ritter, Loyola to Cleveland St. Ignatius and Simeon to Baltimore St. Frances.

There was one road success story. Phillips went to Detroit and knocked off Cass Tech 26-9. Senior running back Anthony Anderson scored three touchdowns for the Wildcats.