Goss: Ty Isaac says his teammates deserved a lot better
November 17, 2012 8:28PM
Joliet Catholic's Ty Isaac is firm in his commitment to USC. | File photo
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:28PM
Ty Isaac stood at midfield and said he was hurting.
No, it was not another injury of the sort that had plagued him all season. This was in his gut.
“I don’t think these guys deserved this,” the senior wingback said of his Joliet Catholic teammates. “I’m hurting for everybody. They all deserved a lot better.”
Isaac had just turned in his last supreme performance in a Hilltoppers’ uniform, rushing for 277 yards and three touchdowns in Saturday’s heart-breaking 40-37 loss to Montini in the Class 5A semifinal at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium. In the process, he became the school’s career rushing leader, finishing with 5,315 yards. The previous mark was the 5,070 of J.R. Zwierzynski.
Some day, holding that record will be a source of pride for the USC-bound Isaac. But that feeling will have to come later.
Isaac saw a chiropractor during the week who seemed to help ease the physical hurt. He rushed for 1,500 yards on the season while being in and out of the lineup.
What might have been had he not had the shoulder injury suffered in Week 1 or the groin injury suffered in midseason?
Against three-time defending state champion Montini, with Isaac looking healthy, Tyler Reitz rushed for 123 yards on 14 carries, Craig Slowick completed 8-of-12 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns and Chris Tschida caught four passes for 51. The Hilltoppers finished with 528 total yards and 25 first downs.
Everyone in the brown jerseys benefitted.
“We couldn’t stop Ty Isaac,” said Montini coach Chris Andriano, whose team yielded 515 yards to Isaac in last year’s 5A final, which Montini won 70-45.
“I’ve been at this for 34 years, and he is the best player I have ever seen. You can’t give him any crease. He’s too big (6-2, 225), too strong, too fast. All three things that you fear, he’s it.”
For the history buffs, Andriano noted his team through the years played against Wilmington’s Damien Anderson, Driscoll’s Greg Turner, Marmion’s Tom Kutsos and most recently Marian Central quarterback Chris Steveler. “They were all great players,” he said. “Isaac is the best.”
Yet, the Montini defense stopped him on a fourth-and-1 late in the third quarter and forced an Isaac fumble in the fourth quarter.
“We caught a couple of breaks, and we took advantage of them,” Andriano said.
“As a senior leader, I shouldn’t let that happen,” Isaac said of the fumble. “Our offensive line did a great job all day. Unfortunately we were not able to finish. These guys did not deserve this.”
Isaac and Hilltoppers coach Dan Sharp exchanged a lengthy hug after the game.
Not a lot was said. Not much needed to be said.
“Playing for the last time here, it hurts,” Isaac said. “I hoped when I came here that I could be part of the tradition.”
Sharp knows he coached a once-in-a-lifetime back, and he felt the hurt, especially for the seniors, that Isaac felt.
“Tyler Reitz, Craig Slowik, (linebacker) Matt Madrigal, all those guys who were with us so long, I can’t help but feel bad for them,” Sharp said. “It was an unbelievable group. We had a lot of adversity. We lost Mammo (starting defensive tackle Matt Mammosser, who died in May of a brain tumor).”
Sharp had to stop for a moment, wipe away tears and clear his throat.
“This is a special group of guys,” he said. “If this is the worst thing that happens to them, they’re going to have a great life.”
Slowik, who was almost perfect on the afternoon before missing his last three desperation passes in the final seconds, echoed Sharp’s sentiments.
“I’ve had a great time playing football at Joliet Catholic,” he said. “What I’m really going to miss are the team dinners and all the other little things.”
Plus one big thing — not playing in one more state championship game.