Goss: QB Anthony DiNardo healthy, hoping to lead Joliet West to playoffs
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org August 17, 2013 4:50PM
Anthony DiNardo, of Joliet West. | Dick Goss~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 19, 2013 9:38AM
Friends on the Joliet West baseball team talked with Anthony DiNardo.
They suggested it may be wise to forgo his senior season of football to guarantee he’s healthy for the spring, when the Tigers look formidable.
DiNardo, though, is as dedicated to football as he is to baseball. The result is the Tigers have the quarterback who hopefully will lead them to the playoffs for the first time.
A lanky right-handed thrower who has worked hard in the weight room, DiNardo dislocated his shoulder on a headfirst slide while playing summer ball in June 2012. He rehabbed and was back at quarterback in the fall.
However, in Week 3, late in the first half of a 3-3 tie with Sandburg, he dislocated the same shoulder. Things disintegrated as West lost 30-3, and DiNardo was done for the season. He had surgery Oct. 1.
He played baseball in the spring but was the designated hitter all season.
“I pitched or played third base (on varsity) every game my sophomore year, so it was tough to be the DH,” he said.
His baseball teammates feel they need him to do more than swing the bat. His fastball hit 85 mph on the radar gun before the injuries.
“The question about whether I should play football is always there,” DiNardo said. “Some of the baseball guys tried to keep me from playing football. But what they don’t know is if it is up to me, I’ll always play both. I want to be there for our team.”
During his years at Joliet Township and now Joliet West, coach Jason Aubry has not had this type of quarterback to run his spread offense. Not that his predecessors weren’t athletic or have strong arms, but DiNardo is the right fit.
“Anthony is a phenomenal kid,” Aubry said. “His GPA is 4.3 and that’s taking honors courses. He’s got a 30 ACT. He is one of the best leaders, by far, that I have had. He could be another Ivy League kid.
“He’s not going to be running around a lot — he doesn’t have that kind of speed. But what sets him apart is he makes good decisions with his arm. Perfect for our offense.”
DiNardo said his summer in baseball and football went well. He felt something in his elbow throwing a pitch, “but that was nothing, as it turned out,” he said.
“Everything went well at all the 7-on-7s. I had more zip on the ball as the summer went on. I was looking forward to last season and I got hurt. It’s all a go this year.”
DiNardo said there “never really was much damage” to his shoulder. “It’s just that it came out, and then it came out again.”
He said he has some shoulder soreness, but that’s merely a matter of regaining all his stamina and returning to game shape. When the Tigers open Aug. 30 at Thornridge, he will be ready.
If he had his way, which he most likely won’t, DiNardo said he would continue playing two sports in college.
“I always wanted to think I had Division I ability,” he said. “But with the injury and missing most of last season, there’s a question about the exposure I have gotten. So it might take a year at a junior college or a small school to get noticed.”
Football matters, as much as baseball.
“I knew I had to play this year for the team,” he said. “I’d hate to sit out and have us come close to the playoffs for the first time and then always wonder, ‘What if I had played? Would we have made it?’ ”
DiNardo said he wants to be able to tell his kids and grandkids some day about being part of West’s first playoff team back in 2013.
We’ll add the kicker — a very important part.