Goss: Aaron Bailey’s brilliant career comes to an end
November 3, 2012 1:52AM
Bolingbrook quarter back Aaron Bailey runs in for a touchdown. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 3, 2012 6:23PM
It took a long while Friday night before Aaron Bailey emerged from the Bolingbrook locker room.
The All-State quarterback had just played his final game in a Raiders uniform, a 44-33 Class 8A second-round loss to Neuqua Valley, and there were lots of teammates and coaches he needed to hug and console. The main characters in coach John Ivlow’s program had grown into a second family that he genuinely appreciated being part of.
Not the star — which he was. Rather, just one of the guys.
“Thank God for my career here,” Bailey said, flashing his patented smile. “Somebody said the time in high school flies by, and it did. But I’m glad I spent it here, with the coaches and players we have here.
“This is a great high school, and I have had fun for four years.”
Bailey quarterbacked Bolingbrook to the Class 8A state championship as a junior, and had he not been injured early in the Week 6 loss to Lincoln-Way East, the 2011 scenario easily could have been repeated.
He played the entire game Friday, his first action since suffering the right knee injury. What rust? He ran the Bolingbrook option offense as if he never HAD been away. He ran hard, carried himself 31 times for 210 yards and completed 7-of-17 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Who am I, or anyone else on the sidelines Friday, to judge how close he was to 100 percent? But the comment was made more than once that if the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Bailey were 100 percent, the outcome would be different.
It did appear there was a slight hitch in his get-along, especially early when he would break into the clear, that you would not normally see. But he said he was feeling fine.
“It took me a while, maybe,” he said. “I had to take my time and try to gradually build up. But the knee was good, thank God.”
No worry about hurting it again?
“Not at all,” he said. “You worry about it, and that’s when you get hurt.”
Yet if Bailey was something less than 100 percent, that does not detract from what we were privileged to watch. When you begin discussing the best high school football players the Joliet area has produced, Bailey belongs in the team picture.
Too bad there isn’t a way to convince the IHSA to allow him to stay at Bolingbrook another year and be our first five-year varsity starter.
The effect of Bailey running with the ball is much like that of Joliet Catholic’s Ty Isaac, although they play different positions. With both, it almost seems the opposing defense wants to celebrate if it can hold them to a five- or six-yard gain. And you know it is only a matter of time before they break the next long one.
Bailey was plenty good enough Friday for the Raiders (8-3) to have advanced and continued pursuit of their second straight state championship. The problem was Neuqua Valley (11-0) having 201-pound Joey Rhattigan in its backfield. All he did was rush 26 times for 346 yards and five touchdowns, including 84- and 57-yarders.
“It’s all good, I’m not worried about it,” Bailey said as he exited the locker room. “God’s will was done tonight.
“I hope they go on and win state.”
If you know Bailey, you know he means it.
Bailey said he was not surprised the game was not decided until the final minutes.
“We knew it would go down to the last second,” he said. “You always see that in NFL games. And this was two good teams.”
Bailey has committed to the University of Illinois and is looking forward to the next chapter in his career. But he will not forget the Raiders.
“Bolingbrook has a great team with a great future,” he said. “Our defense was so young this year, that’s the scary part. I can’t imagine how good they are going to be, but I am going to keep track of them and see.”
Just like so many in the Bolingbrook family will be keeping track of their All-State quarterback who made them all so proud with the way he conducts himself — on and off the field.