A throwback player, Urwiler leaves legacy at Batavia
The postgame handshake line moves steadily until Quinn Urwiler appears.
Whether the Batavia opponent is East St. Louis, St. Charles East or Nazareth Academy, the line slows.
Players who spent the previous two hours fending off blitzes from the relentless outside linebacker or trying to take down the hard-to-tackle running back show him respect.
Those who went against Urwiler directly usually stop to say something, if only for a beat. They appreciate the breakneck speed at which he plays football. Batavia coach Dennis Piron describes Urwiler as having one gear.
"He's always at a high, high level all the time, going 100% with a great sense of awareness of the game itself," said Piron, who calls the 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior "a throwback."
After the East St. Louis game in August, a player Urwiler caught from behind on what otherwise would have been a breakaway touchdown stopped in the handshake line, patted the North Dakota recruit on the shoulder and said "Player right here."
After Nazareth eliminated Batavia in a Class 7A quarterfinal three weeks ago, a Nazareth defensive player shook his head as he approached Urwiler in line. Their brief conversation?
"He goes 'You rocked me twice,'" Urwiler said. "I'm like 'Sorry about that.' He was a good sport about it."
Urwiler made 8 tackles against Nazareth, including a sack and a tackle for a loss. He hurried the quarterback eight times. This was five weeks after he hyperextended his knee, sprained his MCL and ACL and suffered a slight tibia fracture in a loss to St. Charles East.
"Worst pain I've ever felt." Urwiler said. "I thought my season was over."
"Most kids don't come back from that injury in time," Piron said. "Quinn came back two weeks later."
Offensively, Urwiler carried 16 times in that quarterfinal for 86 of Batavia's 118 rushing yards.
"The kid never comes off the field," Nazareth coach Tim Racki said. "You love him until you have to play him."
Quinn Urwiler's standout play on both sides of the ball for DuKane Conference co-champion Batavia made him the captain of the 2019 Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area Football Team.
Named Class 7A all-state, Urwiler finished his third varsity season with 557 rushing yards on 107 carries (5.2 avg.). He scored 13 touchdowns in 10 games.
Defensively, he registered 65 solo tackles, 12 assists, 3 interceptions and 4.5 sacks. He led the Bulldogs with 15 tackles for loss and 5 forced fumbles.
He also batted down 10 passes while rushing the quarterback. In fact, batting down passes became an Urwiler signature move. He was the only Bulldog with the green light to try.
"I guess they think they can throw it over me," he said. "But I just get so high I kind of reach up and get it." Urwiler batted down 11 passes as a junior.
"That kid is a stud," St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar said. "Just his quickness, his physicality, his ability to make plays in open space -- he's really a coach's dream. It's hard to find a player who wants to be out there every rep. That kid just has some physical abilities that are special."
The second of Gary and Donna Urwiler's three football-playing sons, Quinn has been around the game his entire life. Gary is the Executive Director of Mooseheart and coached football there for 15 years over two stints. Quinn, older brother Zach and younger brother Trey attended as many practices and games as they were allowed.
Quinn grew up playing for the Fox Valley Gators Pop Warner team and Batavia Youth Football. As a sophomore he started at outside linebacker for Batavia's 2017 Class 6A state championship team, reached a semifinal as a junior and a quarterfinal this season.
Urwiler won 34 games in three varsity seasons despite injuries. Following his junior season he was in a back brace for over three months due to a condition called Spondylolysis, a series of small stress fractures in his back. Two months of physical therapy at PT Advantage in North Aurora followed. He then resumed workouts, which included "a lot of running and a lot of stairs," he said.
It all added up to one of the best careers in school history.
"He's one of the best athletes and one of the best all-around football players we've ever had," Piron said. "He can feel good about his legacy at Batavia High School. I'm grateful he was in our program."