The Joliet Catholic football program completed a trifecta of sorts Wednesday when senior wingback Ty Isaac received his jersey for the Under Armour All-America Football Game, which will be played at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“We’ve had someone in all three now,” Hilltoppers coach Dan Sharp said, referring to Mike Kolodziej and J.R. Zwierzynski in the January, 2002 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio and Malin Jones in last year’s Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix.
“This is one of the personal accolades that are really nice to get,” Isaac said during the presentation before the Joliet Catholic student body Wednesday afternoon. “I’m thankful for the opportunity. It’s something that will be fun after the season, especially getting to play with or against guys that you’ve read about being the best.”
The game will be televised live on ESPN. Right now, however, Isaac, who has committed to Southern California, has other concerns, notably his health and that of several teammates.
The shoulder injured he suffered in Week 1 against Providence finally has gotten to the point that he says, “It’s OK.” But now? “I have a little bit of a groin injury.”
So will he play Friday night at Notre Dame? “It’s unknown at this point, hard to say,” he said.
Sharp said the Hilltoppers (5-2) could have between five to 10 players sidelined Friday, with Isaac and fellow wingback Tyler Reitz on that list. With Benet (6-1) coming up after the Dons (4-3) to conclude the regular season, and with that many injuries, Sharp said he is happy to have the five wins needed to secure a playoff berth.
“We haven’t had our starting offense or starting defense for one game yet,” Sharp said. “I just hope we get Reitz and some of the other guys back and can go into the playoffs with our regular team.”
“This is not the healthiest team I have ever been on,” Isaac said.
Isaac has been in and out of the lineup, playing at less than 100 percent when he is in there. Yet he has rushed for 799 yards, an 8.1 average, and has caught nine passes for 213 yards, a 23.7 average.
“Ty is a proven All-American,” Sharp said. “His numbers this season don’t reflect that. But he has gotten so much attention. He’s played hurt. All the pressure is on him. Last year he and Malin (Jones) could share the load.
“He has shown he can handle the pressure, carry 25 or 30 times and get hit 30 times, and that’s exciting for the USC coaches. He will have to make the tough yards, break tackles in college.”
Some have questioned how badly Isaac was hurt this season.
“Honestly, there are maybe 10 people who really know what is going on,” Issac said. “I can’t let opinions of people affect what is going on. There was no added pressure on me from that.”
“After Ty hurt his knee sophomore year, I didn’t think he would have to go through this injury thing again,” said his mom, Karen. “But even being hurt, he stays very even keeled.
“It’s really unfortunate there have been so many injuries to our team — Reitz, (Zach) Rezin and all the rest. But they seem to be OK, beat up or not. I did let out a big sigh of relief when they got that fifth win, though.”