Anthony Scaccia, the little engine that could, did.
That’s why the diminutive Batavia senior running back — who powered the most prolific offense in program history to its first state championship — is the Beacon-News Player of the Year for 2013.
A case could be made for several Batavia players receiving the honor, with quarterback Micah Coffey, wide receiver/defensive back Michael Moffatt and linebacker Anthony Thielk immediately coming to mind. But comments from coach Dennis Piron several days before his team beat Richards 34-14 to win the Class 6A title provide context for the choice.
It was obvious Piron felt good about his team’s chances of winning it all. Keep in mind, the Batavia native was defensive coordinator for the 2006 state runner-up and first-year head coach for the 2011 state semifinalist, the two most successful teams in school history.
“He’s our first special tailback, maybe for the years that (former coach) Mike (Gaspari) has been here,” Piron said. “We always wondered, ‘What if we had a special tailback? What if we had a kid you could give the ball to, when it really mattered, 40 times in a game who would carry you to victory?’
“We have that kid this year. That’s maybe the difference between this team and some other teams.”
That’s Scaccia, all 5-foot-7, 155 pounds of him.
The runner Thielk dubbed “swivel hips” was a marvel this season, darting in and out behind a talented offensive line to pile up a school-record 1,913 yards on 219 carries.
“Every time I hand the ball off, we could be going for six, which is what’s so fun,” Coffey said. “I love handing him the ball and watching him go.”
Scaccia used sharp, precision cuts or his breakaway speed to elude defenders. He also caught 27 passes for 313 yards.
The Bulldogs piled up 628 points and Scaccia had 210 on a school-record 35 touchdowns — 28 rushing, seven receiving.
“His work ethic really sets him apart from everybody else and the way he extends plays makes other people want to play,” Coffey said.
Scaccia could have had more yards but was limited to four, eight, 11 and 12 carries in lopsided conference wins this season.
His telling numbers came in the five-game playoff run, when he rolled up 846 yards, averaging 28.4 carries and 169.2 yards against strong competition. He relished the heavy lifting.
“I only had one injury this year,” he said, referring to a bad cut on his elbow that happened when he was taken down late in the 6A semifinals on a frozen field at Rockford Boylan.
A trip to urgent care resulted in one stitch, but the stitch became infected.
“I couldn’t bend it,” said Scaccia, who was prescribed an antibiotic and missed his only practices of the season leading up to the title game.
Weekly 15-minute ice baths the morning after games worked wonders, Scaccia said.
College recruiters, still leery of his size, are warming up. An official visit to Drake last week netted his first scholarship offer, and Division II Minnesota State and Butler also are in the picture.
“It got tougher as the playoffs went on,” he said of the pounding, but credited trainer Erin Finucane for getting him through it.
“She’d get there early Sunday mornings and we’d all come in for treatment,” he said.