Akouris: Small moment says big things about Joe Carnagio
By Tina Akouris email@example.com December 31, 2012 7:42PM
Minooka's Joe Carnagio (8). | File photo
Updated: February 2, 2013 6:04AM
Minooka’s football team had just lost its season opener Aug. 28 at Morris, a close 14-6 defeat that probably stung more because it was against the Indians’ biggest rival.
After the game, I wandered around to find Minooka quarterback Joe Carnagio to ask if he was willing to talk.
Some area rivalries pale in comparison with Minooka-Morris. And with the two teams opening the season against each other, the intensity was heightened.
I found Carnagio walking off the field, head down, helmet in hand, dejected.
“Excuse me, Joe,” I said. “Do you have a moment to talk about the game?”
“Oh, sure,” he said.
And what I got was more than the typical one-word answers you get from kids who lose what they think is the biggest ballgame of their lives. Carnagio was able to explain — unbeknownst to him, probably — why this game was so important to the rivalry.
“I feel like I let down the whole town,” he said.
I used that line in a column I wrote off the game, but what mattered more was how he presented himself in defeat. He didn’t talk like a high school kid. He spoke and acted like a 25-year-old. He wasn’t fidgety, trying to escape more questions, as some I’ve talked with in the past have done after a bad game.
A few weeks later I watched Minooka play again, this time at Plainfield South with a playoff berth on the line. Carnagio was coming back from an ankle injury.
Again, the Indians lost a close game. This time 14-10, with Plainfield South safety Josh Harris intercepting a potential winning pass from Carnagio in the end zone with five seconds left.
And in a deja vu moment, Carnagio stopped to talk with me and didn’t rush off. He was pleasant and classy in defeat.