Walinski carries heavy load for Corsairs
Arlington Heights, 09/14/12--Carmel Catholic's Josh Walinski looks for an opening while returning a kickoff during Friday's game against St. Viator at Forest View. | Jeff Krage~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 3:27PM
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — Carmel senior running back Josh Walinski is one tough cookie. As the featured back in the Corsairs’ option attack, it’s no secret he’s going to get the most carries in any given game.
St. Viator was well aware of the situation on its home field at Forest View Friday night, but that didn’t stop the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Walinski, who carved out 116 yards rushing on 24 carries — including a 13-yard touchdown run — and added 12 more yards on a swing pass from quarterback Nick Grandolfo. Hit after hit after hit, Walinski pulled himself up off the ground, lined up behind his QB, and did it all over again.
“Nick makes my job easier,” said Grandolfo, who ran for a pair of TDs with St. Viator’s defense focused on Walinski during the Lions’ 28-25 win. “It’s a lot for the ‘D’ to handle, and it opened up my two touchdown runs because they were trying to stop him.”
Walinski, who looked no worse for the wear at game’s end, said he’s well-prepared for the rigors of handling such a heavy load.
“It starts in the offseason — lifting, running — in December. You work hard there and the payoff comes in the season,” Walinski said. “The mental part? You’ve got to keep grinding. It’s about staying focused and knowing your job out there.”
Grandolfo said the fact that other teams key on Walinski also helps Carmel’s air attack, His 17-yard toss to senior tight end Max Johnson for a key first down against St. Viator set up Walinski’s TD run.
“It opens up the passing on a play-action fake — it leaves the receiver open,” Grandolfo said.
Carmel (1-3, 1-1 ESCC) will need all its weapons when it visits Nazareth (2-2, 0-2) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The Roadrunners will be hungy after dropping close contests to ESCC powerhouses Marist and Joliet Catholic to open the conference.
Whatever keeps the Corsairs’ offense moving is fine with Walinski.
“As far as I’m concerned — two yards, one yard, breaking a long one — it’s a team game,” he said. “Especially with the option, everyone’s got to do their job and keep grinding. Nick did a great job reading stuff (Friday night), but all the credit goes to the (offensive) line.”
“Especially the downfield blocking,” Grandolfo added.
Carmel head coach Andy Bitto didn’t mince words when describing what Walinski and Grandolfo mean to the Corsairs.
“They’re All-American kids, good students and hard-nosed on the football field,” he said. “Eventually, Josh and Nick get the offense going for us.”