Bolingbrook quarterback Jonas Williams steps into the spotlight after standout freshman season

Bolingbrook quarterback Jonas Williams’ freshman season was one of the best in Illinois high school history. He threw for 2,737 yards and 37 touchdowns.

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Bolingbrook’s Jonas Williams throws a pass on the first day of practice.

Bolingbrook’s Jonas Williams throws a pass on the first day of practice.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Bolingbrook quarterback Jonas Williams’ freshman season was one of the best in Illinois high school history. He threw for 2,737 yards and 37 touchdowns.

And he’s back.

Williams, a highly regarded 6-3, 195-pounder, is now a sophomore and hasn’t left for a prep school. That’s a gift for local high school football fans as practice kicked off around the state Monday.

‘‘I don’t really care about people’s opinions or their conspiracies about where I’m going,’’ Williams said. ‘‘I’m just worried about the task at hand of getting better every day.’’

Titcus Pettigrew is Bolingbrook’s new coach. He was an assistant to longtime coach John Ivlow last season. Pettigrew played basketball and football at Penn State and has been a fixture on the area’s youth coaching scene for years. He first coached Williams in AAU basketball when he was a second-grader.

‘‘[Williams’ parents] have been a pillar of the Bolingbrook community for over 20 years,’’ Pettigrew said. ‘‘It just makes sense for him to be a homegrown hero rather than go to an IMG and become a statistic. It meant more to him and more to his family to stay home.’’

Williams’ composure as a freshman was even more impressive than his physical abilities.

‘‘He’s stronger, bigger, faster,’’ Pettigrew said. ‘‘He’s a unicorn to me. He has a calm about himself that’s rare. I’ve played at the highest level. I’ve seen Doug Flutie to Drew Brees. [Williams] just has that ‘it’ factor that makes you believe he could be next.’’

Kyan Berry-Johnson will be Williams’ top target. The Wisconsin recruit is one of the best receivers in the area and has built a strong bond with Williams. Pettigrew says the two regularly work out on their own.

‘‘[Williams] is going to be better with a lot of things,’’ Berry-Johnson said. ‘‘He knows how to look at both sides of the field throughout the whole game.’’

Sophomore AJ Jones, a transfer from Washington, is expected to be another standout receiver, along with senior Chico Thomas.

The Raiders finished 6-4 last season and lost to Maine South in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.

Bolingbrook will rely on some new faces in the running game and on defense. Senior linebacker Chris Ellen will lead the defense.

‘‘Ellen is the alpha male,’’ Pettigrew said. ‘‘He’s either going to disrupt the play, make the play or attract a double-team.’’

Pettigrew, who was the Raiders’ defensive coordinator last season, said he expects the group to be improved overall.

‘‘We have some veteran pieces to complement some young studs,’’ Pettigrew said. ‘‘We have some kids that are in their first year starting on varsity, but they understand the process.’’

Bolingbrook coach Titcus Pettigrew talks with Jonas Williams during practice.

Bolingbrook coach Titcus Pettigrew talks with Jonas Williams during practice.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Bolingbrook is playing its final season in the SouthWest Suburban Conference. The Raiders will move to the Southwest Prairie next season.

Pettigrew’s group won’t start the season in the Super 25. There are a few too many questions that need to be answered before Bolingbrook earns a ranking.

But Williams’ presence makes the Raiders one of the most intriguing teams in the state. Expect his performances to be monitored closely across the area.

Right now, Williams has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Tennessee and a few other schools.

‘‘This might sound ridiculous, but [last year] was kind of what I expected,’’ Williams said. ‘‘I expected to go out and do well. Now I’m just trying to get better. I had a good year, but there is a lot I’ve improved on. You’ll see it this year.’’

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