O’Brien: Week 1’s four downs

Jahleel Billingsley at practice. The Alabama recruit had a big game Sunday on ESPN. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Jahleel Billingsley at practice. The Alabama recruit had a big game Sunday on ESPN. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

FIRST DOWN: Alabama recruit Jahleel Billingsley lived up to the hype Sunday on ESPN against nationally ranked Pickerington Central, Ohio.

Phillips’ 6-5 senior caught six passes for 65 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown pass. He also impacted the game as a punter and defensive end, picking up a key sack.

But a nightmarish final 51 seconds of the first half was too much for the Wildcats to overcome and they lost 49-18.

Phillips trailed 21-18 has halftime approached. Only three missed PAT’s separated the teams. Then the Wildcats fumbled twice in the last minute of the second quarter. Both turnovers resulted in Pickerington Central touchdowns.

Wildcats quarterback Leonard Smith was 11-for-20 for 135 yards and one interception. Running back Rayshaun Thompson had 18 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Illinois recruit Fabian McCray caught five passes for 66 yards.

Phillips (0-1), the first Public League football team to play on ESPN, turned the ball over six times and was unable to score in the second half.

Pickerington Central, the defending Division 1 Ohio state champs, has three times as many students as Phillips and twice as many football players.

The Wildcats will face St. Louis Chaminade in East St. Louis on Sept. 1.

Batavia's Michael Jansey at practice. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Batavia’s Michael Jansey at practice. The senior scored a key touchdown on Friday against Lemont. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

SECOND DOWN: Batavia’ Michael Jansey Jr., a Northwestern recruit, received a lot of hype in the preseason. The linebacker was named the top defensive player in the area by the Sun-Times’ Beth Long.

Jansey lived up to the hype in Batavia’s 22-15 win at Lemont on Friday. The senior had two sacks to lead the Bulldogs’ stout defense. But his biggest contribution may have been on offense.

Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron said in the preseason that he planned to use a power running formation occasionally. That plan was key against Lemont.

Jansey’s 12-yard touchdown run broke a 15-15 tie in the fourth quarter. Fellow linebacker Luke Weerts was the lead blocker. Jansey had six carries for 36 yards.

Samson Evans (22) of Prairie Ridge comes out of the backfield against Huntley. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

2017 Sun-Times Player of the Year Samson Evans left large shoes to fill in Prairie Ridge. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

THIRD DOWN: There isn’t a player in the area that has bigger shoes to fill this season than Prairie Ridge quarterback Connor Lydon. The junior has to step in for Sun-Times Player of the Year Samson Evans, a Fox Valley legend that led the Wolves to back-to-back undefeated seasons and state championships.

Lydon got off to a great start in Prairie Ridge’s 58-27 win against Crystal Lake Central on Friday. He rushed for 120 yards and four touchdowns and threw a 51-yard touchdown pass. He was 2-for-5 for 87 yards passing.

There was some debate if the Wolves were worthy of their preseason Super 25 ranking this season. So far so good.

FOURTH DOWN: Wheaton-Warrenville South junior Jack Olsen set an Illinois High School Association state record with eight field goals on Friday in the Tigers’ 26-0 win at Metea Valley.

Olsen missed a 52-yard attempt that would have tied the national record. He was the starting kicker for Wheaton-Warrenville South last season but didn’t have any multi-field goal games.

Sun-Times high school football stories:

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