Nazareth is implementing Plan B again for its football season.
For the second consecutive season, leading rusher Rudy Romagnano has suffered a season-ending injury. This time, it’s a career-ender as the senior from Glen Ellyn tore the ACL in his right knee Sept. 14 in an overtime loss at Joliet Catholic.
Romagnano broke his ankle against the same opponent in 2011 and was only able to return to make a few carries in the postseason a year ago.
Now senior linebacker Joshua Moore is filling in again as the lead running back, but Moore’s loss on the defense gives more reps on both sides of the ball to 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior Aeneas White of Westmont.
White is a starting linebacker in Nazareth’s 3-5-3 alignment and helps as a change-of-pace rusher with Moore, carrying seven times for 43 yards in a 13-7 upset loss to Carmel on Saturday.
The next two opponents for the Roadrunners (2-3, 0-3 East Suburban Catholic) each have 4-1 records: At Notre Dame Friday night and at Benet Oct. 5.
“We’re pretty tough,” said White, a state qualifier in wrestling and all-ESCC selection. “[Injuries] are no excuse. We’ve got to get it done.”
White is one of the few Nazareth players to play two ways now that Moore is seeing more time on offense than defense.
It’s part of White’s personality. He is a rare three-sport athlete, who also competes in track and field, preferring the 400-meter relay and 800-meter relay in the spring.
“I just flip a switch [after football to begin wrestling],” White said. “I definitely like football. There is always more work to be done. I like to be busy all the time and do both.”
Moore and White might have brief help in the backfield in future games. Heralded freshman Christopher Simmons rushed once for 14 yards and caught three passes for 21 yards against Carmel (2-3, 2-1).
“With [Romagnano] out, it’s a tough loss for all of us,” Simmons said. “We have to step up and do our parts. We have to keep our heads up.”
Coach Tim Racki took responsibility for Nazareth’s slow start against Carmel. The Roadrunners did not score until late in the fourth quarter.
“Every team goes through this,” Racki said. “Injuries and adversity are not exclusive to Nazareth.”