Being the team player that he is, Batavia senior Brody Osborne had no problem making the initial transition from outside linebacker to safety coming into this season.
But now that younger players in sophomore Jacob Jansey and junior Kyle Porter have adjusted to the varsity level, Osborne is happy to be home at his traditional position.
“I love it,” Osborne said. “I think I flow better at outside linebacker. I think I do a lot better in the box, even on pass plays.
“I think I have decent pass coverage, but I think I’m more effective when I can get to the quarterback, honestly.”
It certainly played out that way Friday night for the Bulldogs in a 33-7 DuKane Conference victory over Geneva.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Osborne was a menace all night for Batavia (5-2, 4-1), recording 10 solo tackles, three tackles for loss, 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble.
With Jalen Buckley and Vincie Solano among the graduated members of the secondary, defensive coordinator Matt Holm decided to try Osborne at safety during a 7-on-7 hosted this summer by Kaneland.
“We knew we would have to go young or move Brody,” Holm said.
Holm was waiting for his young safeties, Porter and Jansey, to get their feet wet on the varsity alongside senior Drake Ostrander.
When the decision was made to have star receiver Drew Gerke play both ways and slot in at cornerback as well, it was easy to slide Osborne back to linebacker.
“He bought some time for us,” Holm said of Osborne. “It fell into place as the weeks went on. He played very well, but it left a hole at outside linebacker.
“That’s one of the things I love about a season like this — the growth from day to day. We’ve had some guys step up.”
The change has been especially evident in stopping the run.
In back-to-back losses to Lincoln-Way East and Wheaton North, the Bulldogs allowed 367 yards rushing. After surrendering 99 yards rushing in a 42-0 win over Lake Park, they have allowed only 47 the past three weeks.
Glenbard North, Wheaton Warrenville South and Geneva averaged 0.8 yards a carry in those three wins by Batavia.
“We’ve really been stepping it up the past few weeks,” Osborne said. “Our defense is coming along now. We have the mentality that we’re going to stop the run every play.
“We’re run first — that’s who we are.”
Batavia coach Dennis Piron and his staff have always preached that philosophy.
“Our run defense has gotten better and better each week,” Piron said. “The last couple years, teams are averaging one to one-and-a-half yards per carry.
“If you do that, now they have to do some other stuff. When a quarterback drops back, it can be dangerous with as fast as those guys are.”
Also, when you have personnel like Osborne and Wisconsin-bound linebacker Tyler Jansey executing the plan, it makes things look even better.
“It’s just great discipline from our D-line and our linebackers coming from all angles and gaps,” Osborne said. “I think we’re all studs.”
Osborne has visions of continuing his career in college, although he’s undecided on his future destination.
“I’ll keep putting out highlights,” he said.
If he continues with highlight-reel plays, Osborne remains confident of where the team is headed since all the personnel decisions have been sorted out.
“We’re really good now,” Osborne said. “It was just a couple fluke games, but it helped us. We’re just getting better. We are really rolling.
“If we keep this pace up, good things will come our way. I feel good about our team.”
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.