Beginning today and continuing throughout the high school football season, I’ll bring you five thoughts from the weekend that was.
1. Best game of the season: It’s likely there won’t be a better game this season than Joliet Catholic’s 32-31 win over Carmel on Friday. The 24 minutes of drama in the second half was like watching an episode of "Jersey Shore." The second half included Joliet Catholic taking a 15-point lead, Carmel responding with three consecutive scores, including a 56-yard touchdown run with one minute left on the clock, and finally Joliet Catholic’s Ty Isaac scoring with 35.3 seconds remaining on a 75-yard touchdown reception for the win. You add a number of Division I-caliber players, elite kickers (both hit field goals of 36 or more yards) and a storied rivalry, and it was certainly one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed in person.
2. State’s premier running back: Joliet Catholic’s Ty Isaac may just be the state’s best running back, and he’s only a junior. Isaac did it all against Carmel on Friday. He ran the ball. He caught passes. He beat defenders with his speed. He beat them with his moves. There was one run where he nearly reached the right sideline, spun, revered to the left sideline and picked up 20 yards. He has that special play-making ability. He finished with 221 rushing yards, 91 yards receiving, two rushing touchdown and one game-winning touchdown reception. Carmel coach Andy Bitto said after the game he thought Isaac was the state’s top running back. I haven’t seen everyone, but I’d agree with that for now.
3. OK showing: Sunday’s telecast on ESPN2 between No. 2 Wheaton Warrenville South and No. 3 Glenbard West wasn’t decided until the game’s final minutes, so from that standpoint it was watchable. But from an aesthetic one, it wasn’t the most attractive football. Glenbard West turned the ball over four times on fumbles, and Wheaton Warrenville South threw two interceptions and fumbled once. I suppose it was a great game for those fans who love defense. Other than that, it wasn’t pretty.
4. A statement: In our season preview for Downers Grove South, I mentioned running back Josh Williams was dangerous when healthy. On Friday, he showed just how good he can be, rushing for a career-high 336 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries in the Mustangs’ win over South Elgin. If he can remain healthy, he could have a monstrous season.
5. Slow down: There were a number of teams that were expected to be dominant and looked dominant in Week 1. There were some teams who were expected to be dominant and weren’t so in Week 1. While it’s OK to start measuring teams, there’s still a long way to go before deciding the state champions. Remember a year ago, Maine South lost its first two games before winning out. There were also teams that won their first two games and fizzled out the rest of the season. Let’s wait to crown anyone just yet.