John Swarn faced anxiety last summer that had nothing to do with the uncertainty of football season.
Swarn, a junior receiver, transferred to Yorkville from Oswego at the end of July. He knew just one of his new teammates, backup quarterback Nate Kraus.
“It was very scary,” Swarn said. “I took a jump, it was a big change. Oswego coming to Yorkville, it’s very different. But the guys at Yorkville, they gave me a lot of hospitality. We would go to the gym, we were all connected. They showed me nothing but love.”
Swarn has indeed found himself right at home with the Foxes.
The 5-foot-10 junior has quickly become a favorite target of senior quarterback Luke Davies, the leading receiver on a Yorkville offense that spreads the wealth between Swarn, Kory Flowers and Brendan McGarahan for the 3-0 Foxes.
Swarn has 10 catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns, including a 57-yarder in last Friday’s 16-14 win over Oswego East on a perfectly-executed flea flicker.
It’s the kind of play that comes from a good connection, which Swarn quickly has formed with Davies and his teammates. Swarn said that Dougie Burson, also a teammate in basketball, was the first person he talked to when he first came to school at Yorkville, and he also developed a rapport with fullback Will Schumacher during contact days.
“When I first got to Yorkville it was two days and were already on the field, running through the plays that we would be running the whole year,” Swarn said. “We didn’t know if we would have a season at all, but we texted a lot. I was in the group chat, we had positive vibes. The coaches told me where I would be playing. Luke and I got a connection.”
Although he’s new to the program, Swarn has quickly developed into a leader for the Foxes.
“Any time he runs a route he’s grunting as he explodes,” Yorkville coach Dan McGuire said. “He practices everything like a game.”
Where Swarn has the jukes and the quickness, Flowers possesses breakaway speed – which he showed last Friday.
Flowers turned a slant pass on fourth-and-15 on Yorkville’s last drive into a 60-yard gain, setting the stage for Matt Maldonado’s 22-yard field goal on the game’s final play.
Ironically, the play wasn’t even designed for Flowers.
“I was supposed to run a curl, a four route and catch and toss to the running back,” Flowers said. “But the corner was playing Cover-3, he came up to play man. I needed some space to catch and toss to the running back and I knew I wouldn’t have that space. I took my chance, caught and ran.”
“He showed some football smarts,” McGuire said. “What we wanted to do did not happen. He adjusted his route to find the window. I don’t think that’s something he would have done as a sophomore. He adjusted his route, and for him to get 60 yards there against an athletic defense was amazing.”
Flowers was like Burson last season, a junior caught behind a couple seniors on the depth chart. He practiced hard, got a spot on special teams, and took advantage of it with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a second-round playoff game at Willowbrook.
“It was huge for his team and huge for his personal confidence,” McGuire said. “He and Dougie are great examples of what happens in a program when you create depth and have kids earn their opportunity.”
Through three games Flowers had eight catches for 167 yards, and probably Yorkville’s biggest catch of the season.
“Kory kind of has that breakaway speed, where John has the jukes, the quickness in and out of the breaks,” McGuire said. “They are very similar in that they can avoid tackles and do it in different ways. That’s something we preach is when guys catch the ball that they make at least one guy miss.”
Oswego crosstown at West Aurora:
The latest wrinkle in this unusual spring season comes this Friday, when Oswego East hosts Oswego – at West Aurora High School.
Neither Oswego school has played a game on its home field yet.
“Our field still hasn’t recovered from the Oswego game two years ago; that is a big factor,” Oswego East coach Tyson LeBlanc said. “I was out there a couple days ago, it’s still brown and dry in spots. Oswego’s field, they did some irrigation work in the fall, that’s why they moved the game to West Aurora.”
With rain in the forecast throughout this week, LeBlanc for his part is pleased that the field conditions will not be a factor as they have been in recent years. Two years ago, the game was played on Oswego East’s grass field in more or less monsoon conditions.
Some fans may not care for the crosstown game being played outside city limits, but LeBlanc said the kids could care less.
“We could play them in a parking lot behind Oswego High School and they would still want to play,” LeBlanc said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s always awesome to have that atmosphere and it will be missed. But playing somebody that’s a top team in conference, kids you grew up with, [Oswego East running back] Darquel [Sanders] is best friends with [Oswego running back Mark] Melton, any time you have those kinds of situations where you grew up with each other and are playing against each other I don’t think the setting is much of a factor.”
LeBlanc said Oswego East hopes to play its last home game, Senior Night, coincidentally against West Aurora, at Oswego East’s home field.
Wolves moving on:
Oswego East was none too pleased with a few of the circumstances surrounding the end of last Friday’s Yorkville loss. The Wolves were called for a defensive hold well away from the play on a Yorkville punt that, with a low snap, Oswego East would have had first-and-goal out of leading 14-13. Oswego East felt that Yorkville was awarded one of the Wolves’ timeouts in the second half, giving the Foxes one extra timeout to stop the clock in the final seconds and set up a game-winning field goal.
LeBlanc, though, said it’s time to move on.
“The thing I talk about is controlling the stuff we can control,” he said. “As coaches, we get frustrated but you have to control the things you can control. Life is not fair, things don’t always go your way, but you can’t sit and dwell on what happened. You have to move on.”