BATAVIA – Luke Alwin appears ready for his moment.
Alwin, a Batavia junior wideout, did not see varsity game action last year. He should have plenty of time to shine this fall, though.
“With a lot of seniors leaving last year, I have to step up and play a big part in the offense,” Alwin said. “The pass game, it’s going to be [Drew Gerke and I] a lot. I’m going to have to step up a lot.”
Batavia hosted a 7-on-7 event with Plainfield East, Glenbard West and Elk Grove on July 14.
Alwin, a 6-foot, 158-pounder, practiced with the varsity when the playoffs began last year after spending his sophomore season at the sophomore level.
The transition seems to be humming along. Junior quarterback Ryan Boe returns to pilot Batavia’s aerial attack after an undefeated regular season and a second-round playoff appearance last year.
“I think [Alwin’s] route running is really good,” Boe said. “His speed, it’s hard to guard him.”
While Alwin’s frame doesn’t project to a prototypical possession receiver build, his quickness and speed – aspects he’s spent time this summer improving – will be key elements as he grows within the offense.
“I’d say I’m shifty,” Alwin said. “I can create space pretty easily sometimes. I’m kind of quick with my footwork. When I create space, it helps me get open a lot.”
Boe, after a full season with starting experience, is back with notable zip on his passes. His grip on the football, however, was his most significant offseason homework assignment.
“I think that definitely helped me with my spiral,” said Boe, who completed 66% of his passes and averaged 134.6 passing yards a game last year. “Once I got my spiral down, it makes it easier to put the ball where you want it.”
Throwing deep is a primary reason for the shift.
“I used to keep my [two fingers] down on the ball [laces],” Boe said. “I had to get my pointer finger a little more on the tip. That just helps me spin it better. It definitely [feels more natural now].”
The Bulldogs graduated notable offensive production, particularly in the backfield. Last year’s Kane County Chronicle Football Player of the Year Jalen Buckley headlines the list. Between Buckley, Josh Dornink and AJ Sanders, the Bulldogs will have to find a way to replace an average of 185.4 rushing yards a game.
Ryan Whitwell, who had 26 carries for 191 yards last year, projects to be a top option. Batavia, though, traditionally employs a multi-back rotation.
Whitwell currently is recovering from bone spur surgery he had in June on his right ankle. Whitwell played through the injury throughout the entire 2021 season and had surgery in January. During recovery, Whitwell had a bone spur reemerge and scar tissue from being immobilized remained. Whitwell had follow-up surgery last month, which has limited his offseason work to weights to this point.
Whitwell, who also plays safety, is hopeful to start running in a few weeks.
“[Running back has] been my favorite position ever since I was a little kid,” Whitwell said. “I’m excited to hopefully play as much as possible on the field.
“I’m excited. There’s no pressure on me. It’s just a game in the end. I just play this game to have fun because I really just love playing the game for fun.”