Super 25 football countdown: No 23 Thornton10/8/11 Harvey- Thorntons Jowahn Brown carries against Thornwood. Stacia Timonere/for The Sun-TImes
Updated: August 2, 2012 2:27PM
Two years ago, Thornton coach Bill Mosel made a conscious decision to go young.
He put five sophomores – Jalen Banks, twins Jamal and Jason Towns, Taje Frazier and Jerome Jenkins – into key roles for a team that made the Class 7A playoffs and finished 7-3. As juniors, the same group again reached the postseason and wound up 6-4.
Now those players are seniors and the hope in Harvey is that they’ll end their prep careers with a special season.
“We’ve got a lot of experience,” said Banks, who is one of the nation’s top safeties in the Class of 2013. “I think we’re going to be ready for whatever.”
“They were talented enough to move up,” said Mosel, whose Wildcats are No. 23 in the Sun-Times’ preseason Super 25. “By the time they were seniors, they were going to be very battle-tested.”
Banks is actually one of the most experienced players in the state, having played varsity football since he arrived at Thornton as a freshman in 2009. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder is ranked 29th nationally at his position by Rivals.com and has multiple big-time offers from schools such as Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa and Boston College.
He’s the leader of a deep and experienced secondary that could be one of the area’s toughest to pass on. The Towns brothers and Frazier are also in that unit, while Jenkins, a 6-2, 280-pounder getting interest from some state schools, anchors the line.
Some of the Fab Five seniors also figure to be playmakers on offense.
Jamal Towns ran for 1,252 yards, averaging 6.0 per carry, and 14 touchdowns last season. His brother Jason filled up the stat sheet, passing for 572 yards and five touchdowns, rushing for 363 yards and four scores and catching 20 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns.
“Jason played quarterback, some slot, some corner,” Mosel said. “He did a lot of things for us.”
The Wildcats were able to move Jason Towns around because of the emergence of quarterback Jowahn Brown (1,287 passing yards, 8 TDs), brother of former Thornton star Keyon Brown.
“The offense definitely has some weapons,” Banks said. “We’ve got some young and talented guys.”
But it all comes back to Banks and his fellow veterans.
“It kind of comes back to those five kids,” Mosel said. “You hate to put it [all] on them. [But] they’re great character kids. When the day is done, they are tremendous young men.”