Fox Valley Male Athlete of the Year: Batavia's Quinn Urwiler
Batavia's Quinn Urwiler should come with a warning label: Do not try to tackle in open field.
Some opponents found out the hard way.
In a nonconference game last fall, Urwiler, a two-way starter, was playing outside linebacker when he stepped in front of a receiver, intercepted a pass and took off down the right sideline.
The last person standing between him and 6 points was the quarterback. To the signal caller's credit, he cut off the angle near the sideline, lowered his shoulder and did his best to tackle Urwiler.
But the ferocity with which the Batavia captain delivers punishment belies his 6-foot, 180-pound frame. Little did the quarterback know he was trying to take down a player who has been timed at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, benches 330 pounds, squats 480 and has deadlifted 505.
It's like trying to tackle a dump truck.
"The other team made the mistake of trying to tackle Quinn, not knowing the type of player an athlete he was," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "Rather than try to juke the kid out, he said 'Oh, I'm just going to run you over.' And he did. It was a tremendous highlight play."
It's a play Urwiler said he has watched over and over.
"If you watch the play, I slow down and think 'What am I gonna do here?'" he said. "I thought 'Well, it's a high school quarterback so he's going to hit me.' I sped up and just kind of ran into him. I was like 'No way I just did that. I just put him into the ground.' "
In the same game, Urwiler showed his running style to be equal parts lightning to thunder. Tired of being tackled low, the third-year running back hurdled a low tackler and kept chugging.
Hurdling an opponent is a 15-yard penalty in IHSA football. Urwiler knew as much but did it anyway to make the next tackler think twice about going low.
It was the football equivalent of a pitcher throwing chin music to keep a batter from getting too comfortable crowding home plate. He made up for it by rushing for a first down on the play.
"It looked like in real time he was eight feet in the air," Piron said. "It was absolutely no big deal for him to do. He just did things, you know? He made phenomenal plays look simple and easy."
Urwiler intended to play basketball last winter, but playing 39 varsity football games over three years took its toll. His back needed rest in order to be ready for baseball. When spring baseball practice rolled around, the Bulldogs' speedy center fielder was ready for his third varsity season, his fourth if you count the playoff game he appeared in as a freshman.
"In the first week of practice, that was really the first time he was in an open gym this year and he looked awesome," Batavia baseball coach Alex Beckmann said. "Quinn is a freak. You tell him to do something and he can do it. There aren't many kids like that. In any sport, he would be the best player on any team you put him on. He's a really special athlete. I'm really glad I was able to coach him."
Due to the Class 7A All-State selection's overall combination of strength, speed and accomplishment, Quinn Urwiler has been named the 2019-20 Daily Herald Male Athlete of the Year in the Fox Valley.
He lifts every morning for 60-90 minutes, followed by a 40-minute conditioning session, he said. Gary and Donna Urwiler's son said he gets his work ethic from his dad. Gary played football and golf at Eureka College and remains a crossfit enthusiast.
"He lost his dad at a young age and had to work for everything," Quinn said. "He says I'm a lot like him from the sports aspect of never giving up and giving it all you've got. You just keep going no matter what. Even when things look down you just have to push through. Things are going to get better no matter what."
Urwiler leaves for summer football camp at North Dakota in less than two weeks. The Fighting Hawks are getting a difference maker in the Class 7A all-stater, according to Piron.
"It's an intensity thing," he said. "You have something pretty special when someone goes so hard, all-out all the time, doesn't have any give to him, hits with all of that speed and ferocity, plays with all that energy and tension and has the athletic ability to go with it.
"It's hard to couple together all the facets of being a great member of a sports team. He maximizes all the things on that chart."