Jobs Homes Autos For Sale

Gray even better under bright lights
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Columnist
print story
email story
Published: 9/17/2011 11:26 AM

Send To:





Batavia has seen a few stars emerge through the years during 7-on-7 summer camps.

That's nice, but they prefer the stars break out under the Friday Night Lights every time.

Looks like they've got one of both in senior corner back/wide receiver Jon Gray.

"This summer Johnny Gray is lighting it up in 7 on 7s," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "We've had kids do that before but when the lights come on Friday nights and you get out there it is a little different. Coach (Mike) Gaspari says to Johnny, 'Jon, are you going to be able to do the same thing as you have been doing in the summer on Friday nights?'

"Jon looks at him and says, 'I'll be better coach.'"

Was Gray ever on Friday night as the Bulldogs, ranked No. 15 in the Daily Herald Top 20, pasted No. 12 Bartlett, 35-13. Gray picked off Bartlett's Air Force-bound A.J. Bilyeu not once, not twice, but three times.

"He was right, wasn't he?" Piron said. "A little bit of cockiness and arrogance and you know what? He's getting the job done. He's a special football player."

Gray's first and third interceptions came when he went up high in one-on-one coverage on deep passes against Bartlett star receiver Zach Karys. Both times the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Gray came down with the ball, both times giving Batavia the ball back at its own 4-yard line preventing likely touchdowns.

"He (Karys) got past me a little but I caught up pretty good," Gray said. "He had the ball first and I just ripped it away from him."

It was Gray's second interception that turned the game, a 79-yard return for a touchdown in the third quarter.

"I saw them give the hitch sign because I saw it earlier in the game so I knew the guy was going to hitch," Gray said. "I just jumped in when I saw him (Bilyeu) take his three-step drop. I saw the sideline and just went."

It was quite a different story from a year ago at Bartlett when Batavia fell behind 26-7 at halftime in a 40-22 loss.

"We knew coming in they had some really tough receivers, that was going to be a challenge for our corners," Gray said. "We shut them down pretty well I'd say. It was a team effort."

Gray's three-interception game Friday follows a two-pick game in the season opener vs. Marmion. Piron has come to expect those kind of big plays from his summer and now fall star.

"If you saw him walking around in a crowd of people you wouldn't think nothing of him," Piron said. "One hundred and some pounds soaking wet. He is a backyard football player like we were picking teams when we were little kids. You would always want to get Johnny Gray on your team because he makes all the plays."

And just like Gray predicted, he makes them under the Friday Night Lights.