Jordan Roberts shines for Wheaton College
By Rick Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org November 19, 2012 6:08PM
Former Aurora Christian quarterback Jordan Roberts threw 29 touchdown passes this season at Wheaton College. | Mike Hudson~thunderphotos.com
Updated: December 21, 2012 6:21AM
It couldn’t help but be bittersweet for Jordan Roberts as he walked the Aurora Christian sideline Saturday on a windless, sun-kissed afternoon at Sterling High School — a perfect day for football.
On one hand, the Wheaton College senior quarterback was getting a chance to watch youngest brother Noah, a junior wide receiver-linebacker for his prep alma mater, play. The Eagles met Sterling Newman in their IHSA Class 3A semifinal with a return trip to Champaign on the line for the defending state champs.
On the other, Roberts couldn’t help but think how he and younger brother Grayson and their Thunder teammates should be playing somewhere that same day in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. After all, Elmhurst and North Central, the teams Wheaton had tied for a share of the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin title were doing just that.
“I was able to come to a few (Aurora Christian) games at the beginning of the season, so this is nice to see them again,” Jordan Roberts said. “But it’s also frustrating not getting to the playoffs. I felt we were starting to get in a groove, going 4-0 (including a 35-20 win over North Central) after the loss (to Elmhurst).”
It had to take him back to the good old days, when he set numerous state passing records and led the Eagles to Champaign as a senior in 2008. They finished runner-up to Bloomington Central Catholic (37-28) in the Class 4A title game in which he threw for 365 yards and four TDs.
He got to see Noah Roberts, who has moved to linebacker from safety with Victor Roza sidelined by injury, get in on nine tackles. He also saw him sweep in untouched on a blitz late in the game to sack Newman QB A.J. Sharp, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Ryan Suttle for the Comets’ fifth turnover of the game in the 41-7 decision.
He also saw QB Ryan McQuade complete his first eight passes and throw four TD passes in the first half and got to high-five his old coach Don Beebe after hearing him call an audible from the sideline to set up one of them.
Jordan Roberts will return to the Thunder next season after missing last year with a torn ACL in his knee.
“I had no idea what to expect (coming back),” he said.
The year he was gone, senior Garrett Meador stepped in and earned CCIW Offensive Player of the Year honors for a team that went 8-2. Meador, who returned this fall for his fifth season, was a preseason All-American pick, but Roberts prevailed in a duel for the starting job. He completed 201 of 286 passes to break the school completion percentage record (70.3) he had set his sophomore season as a starter for a 10-2 Thunder team that made it to the second round of the D-III playoffs.
He threw for 2,500 yards and 29 TDs, including four to Grayson, a freshman wide receiver who would have seen more action if he hadn’t suffered a concussion late in the season.
“It was nice to be able to come back and do well. Garrett and I worked out real hard and (the competition) played out,” said Roberts. “We’ve gotta lot of veteran guys coming back and have high hopes.”
Coach Mike Swider is looking forward to it already.
“It should be a great year. He’s a great leader for us and we have tremendous potential,” said Swider. “Jordan is a mobile quarterback who throws extremely well.”
The coach was still trying to get past a difficult week, though.
“It’s just real frustrating because we’re used to being in the playoffs and we’ve never lost a first-round game,” he said. “We thought we deserve to be there but we lost out on the automatic qualifier, even though we were co-champs.
“It’s unfortunate, you’re ranked 15th in the country but you can’t make the 32-team playoff bracket because of all the automatic berths. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is. You can mope about it or move on.”