Football: Joliet Catholic’s Mike Ivlow aiming for the top
By Mike Clark firstname.lastname@example.org September 23, 2013 8:34PM
Updated: September 23, 2013 10:18PM
If you’re going to dream, might as well dream big.
That’s Mike Ivlow’s philosophy in his final season at Joliet Catholic and first year as the Hilltoppers’ featured back. After playing fullback and blocking for current USC freshman Ty Isaac and Tyler Reitz last fall, Ivlow dropped about 30 pounds during the offseason.
It was a case of addition — in terms of speed — by subtraction. Ivlow already has surpassed his 2012 season rushing total and has two 300-yard games, the latest a 353-yard effort in Saturday’s 42-0 shutout of Nazareth.
Did anyone see this coming? Doesn’t look like it.
“Not at all,” said Ivlow, a 5-9, 195-pounder. “I was expecting to have maybe 500 to 600 yards” through four games.
Instead, he has 1,017 on 88 carries (11.6 average) along with 10 touchdowns. Ivlow ran for 898 yards and 16 touchdowns last season for a Joliet Catholic team that lost 40-37 to eventual champ Montini in the Class 5A semifinals.
“I don’t think you ever expect that,” Hilltoppers coach Dan Sharp said of Ivlow’s big early numbers. “(But) Mike’s done an unbelievable job of preparing himself.”
That included the weight-loss plan that combined careful meal planning and a workout regimen that featured running sprints in full pads.
Ivlow is hoping it all pays off big both for himself and for the Hilltoppers (4-0), who host Marist (3-1) in an East Suburban Catholic Conference showdown Friday at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
“It’s been a very fun ride and we don’t want it to stop,” Ivlow said. “Our first goal is to get five wins. Coming into the season, I don’t think anybody in the state of Illinois had us getting five wins. We’re at four, we need one more to get to the (state) playoffs.”
The postseason is a familiar destination for Joliet Catholic. The Hilltoppers have failed to qualify just three times since the IHSA playoffs debuted in 1974 and have won a state-record 13 titles.
Ivlow doesn’t just want his team to be No. 1 again. “I want to be the leading rusher in the state of Illinois,” he said, acknowledging there’s some formidable competition for that honor from the likes of Glenbard North’s Justin Jackson and Notre Dame’s Chris James.
Ivlow also is quick to acknowledge the debt he owes to his teammates in putting up those stats.
Fellow back Nick Borgra showed he’s someone opponents can’t ignore when he ran 24 times for 253 yards and four touchdowns in a Week 3 win over St. Viator. Then there’s the guys up front: guards JB Butler (6-3, 280) and Jalen Hansel (6-2, 290), tackles Tyler Witt (6-3, 275) and Justin Hunter (6-2, 300) and center Nick Chavez (5-10, 265). Fullback Ben Hart and tight ends Jordan Jones and Zach Rezin also have paved the way for Ivlow.
“You could put two semis between those holes they make,” he said.
But Ivlow is the guy getting it done.
“He’s always been a very talented runner,” Sharp said. “He can make people miss and he reads his blocks well. He’s turning 10-yard runs into 60-yard runs.”
And dreams into reality.