CHICAGO – Ryan Whitwell couldn’t be missed on the field because of his electric lime green cleats and gloves he chose to sport.
His overall use on Batavia’s first drive of its 43-6 domination over Phillips on Aug. 27, though, perhaps makes an even better case as to why he should be kept a close eye on for opposing defenses moving forward.
Whitwell was the engine for seven plays of the Bulldogs’ 15-play opening drive that ended in Tyler Jansey’s 11-yard touchdown run.
“Last year, I didn’t really play much offense [he played linebacker] and I love to play offense,” said Whitwell, a senior running back who ran for 75 yards and a touchdown. “It was just really fun going out there with the O-Line [and they] did a great job. We were able to keep running the clock. … No one could stop us.”
Whitwell, who had two offseason surgeries to correct a bone spur issue, knows the offensive growth needs to continue.
“We can always do everything better,” Whitwell said. “Run routes better, just getting our timing. Our timing is still off. It’s Week 1. There’s going to be mistakes that we’re going to have to fix Week 2. I definitely think this can be one of the best offenses in the state.”
“We got some quick backs, we got the receivers, tight ends. We want to be balanced ‚” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “We want to be able to run [or] throw any down, any distance. It makes it very difficult if we can do that. That’s what I think our goal offensively was coming into tonight. Do a little bit of both things [and] get our guys all clicking.”
On Phillips’ second possession, Batavia defensive lineman Jordan Buckley knifed through to force a safety of quarterback Joe Winslow Jr. to give the Bulldogs a 9-0 lead.
Drake Ostrander later intercepted Winslow Jr. to set up Whitwell’s 2-yard score to establish a three-possession lead with 5:21 left in the first half.
Batavia safety Grant Wardynski intercepted Winslow on the next possession. That led to a 14-play scoring drive capped by a 7-yard Ryan Boe touchdown pass to Drew Gerke with five seconds left in the half to make it 23-0.
Boe had three incompletions to Gerke earlier in the drive, but eventually found him for three receptions to remedy the work in progress.
Boe finished 10-of-18 for 127 passing yards and a touchdown. He also had a rushing touchdown. Gerke had four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Out of the break, Batavia sophomore Jacob Jansey smashed Da’Kwan Phillips on the opening kickoff to jar loose a fumble, which was returned by Kyle Porter for a 29-0 lead.
Charlie Whelpley had a 34-yard rushing score and Boe’s 2-yard rushing touchdown put the finishing touches on a convincing win.
The Wildcats got their only score with 1:52 left on a Winslow Jr. 37-yard touchdown to Achilles Dawson with the Batavia reserves in the game.
Winslow Jr. finished 6-of-12 for 110 passing yards. Reginald Fox had 24 rushing yards.
Phillips faces Class 7A powerhouse Mount Carmel next week.
“We’re going to take the hardest path. We don’t know no other way,” Wildcats coach Joe Winslow said. “I’m playing Carmel next week. I ain’t got time to cry. You lick your wounds tonight, put the Band-Aid on tomorrow [and] you practice hard on Monday. Hopefully, we learn from this.”