Crystal Lake South's Brad Walovitch is the honorary co-captain of the 2011 Daily Herald Fox Valley all-area football team.
George Leclaire | Staff Photographer
From the opening kick of a football game to the final snap, Crystal Lake South senior Brad Walovitch was as involved as a five-alarm fire.
High school football's version of a Renaissance man, the 18-year-old was skilled in multiple disciplines. He had a hand in virtually every phase of the game for the 10-2 Gators, who repeated as champions in the Fox Valley Conference for the first time in school history and reached a Class 7A quarterfinal for the second straight season.
Offense, defense, kicks, punts, kick returns, punt returns you name it, the son of Howard and Joanne Walovitch probably tried it and succeeded at it more than once.
"The only time I really left the field was after a big play on offense," Walovitch said. "I'd get some water, tie my shoe, catch my breath. Then I'd annoy coach until he put me back in."
CL South coach Chuck Ashmann was more than willing to oblige.
"It's not like he was out there because we didn't have anyone else who could play," Ahsmann said. "He was out there because he was our best guy. He's good at everything."
For his multiple roles as CL South's leading wide receiver, as the area's best ball-hawking defensive back and as an elite punter and kicker will anyone in the FVC ever forget his 51-yard field goal to beat rival Cary-Grove in the final seconds? Crystal Lake South's Brad Walovitch has been named co-captain of the 2011 Daily Herald Fox Valley all-area football team. He shares the award with Bartlett senior quarterback AJ Bilyeu.
Walovitch was prepared to take the field at the start of a game regardless if the Gators won or lost the coin toss. If CL South kicked off, Walovitch did the kicking. His 48 kickoffs covered 2,118 yards. He routinely put the ball in the end zone, but assorted squib kicks lowered his average to 44 yards.
If the Gators received the opening kick, he was back deep to return. Walovitch returned 11 kickoffs for 237 yards, highlighted by an 85-yard touchdown return against Huntley in Week 4.
When CL South was on offense, the 5-foot-11, 185 pound wide receiver had to be guarded closely if not double covered. He finished the season as the Gators' leading pass catcher with 32 receptions for 474 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 23-yard scoring reception in a loss to eventual Class 6A state champion Prairie Ridge.
"He was a dangerous player on offense," said Streamwood coach Cal Cummins, whose team lost to CL South in the first round of the playoffs, 35-7. "We always tried to make sure where he was when they lined up."
Walovitch was on the prowl when his team was on defense. The cornerback grabbed 3 interceptions in the season-opening win at Thornridge, returning 1 of those picks 41 yards for a touchdown. He finished the season with 7 interceptions, tops in the Fox Valley area.
"It really starts off with our defensive line doing a good job getting pressure and not letting the quarterback have time," Walovitch said. "The line made my job easier.
"Also, I switched up my stance this year. I turned in more toward the quarterback. I would look back at the quarterback and, if I had enough time, I'd read his eyes. I knew I had a lot of help with (safety Brendan) Chrystal playing over the top most times. We played together for two years in the secondary and jelled really well."
If the Gators had to punt, they turned to Walovitch, who registered an area-best punting average of 37.8 yards on 41 attempts with a long of 64 yards.
Because Walovitch is such a good athlete, the Gators switched at midseason to a rugby-style punt inspired by a game televised on Comcast between Batavia and Geneva. Walovitch would take the snap and run to his right, ready to punt, but he was also given the green light to run for a first down if he saw room.
"Having that play in definitely opened things up," Walovitch said. "After seeing Geneva do it on TV, I did it one day in practice and coach (Rob) Fontana saw it. He made me do it five more times to make sure it wasn't a fluke."
The adoption of the rugby punting style paid huge dividends in a second-round playoff game at Carmel. On fourth-and-1 from his own 22-yard line with less than three minutes to play, Walovitch saw a small opening and stretched for a 2-yard gain. The gutsy play allowed the Gators to control the clock down the stretch in a 14-9 victory, their first win in three playoff meetings against the Corsairs.
If the Gators were receiving a punt, Walovitch was sometimes deep to receive. He returned 4 punts for an average of 10.3 yards.
Of course, he'll long be remembered for the field goal heard 'round the Fox Valley Conference. With the Week 3 showdown at rival Cary-Grove tied 7-7 with 6 seconds left, Walovitch split the uprights with a 51-yarder, which set off an unbridled celebration along the CL South sideline.
Ironically, the kicker had joked about such an outcome with his father at breakfast that morning, his 18th birthday.
"My dad asked if I was going to hit a field goal," Brad Walovitch recalled this week. "I predicted I'd hit the game-winning field goal, but I was just joking at the time. And I certainly didn't predict anything that far.
"It was so surreal. Just replaying it in my head now isn't good enough. I have to watch the highlight to realize it actually happened, just to make sure it was real."
The field goal was most certainly real, but it wasn't the only memorable play Walovitch made against the Trojans that night.
"Obviously, the field goal is what we remember most, but he made a play on a halfback pass that was pretty indicative of his athletic ability," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "We thought we had him burned and we actually did for a minute there. (Ryan) Mahoney made a nice pass, but Walovitch recovered and did a real nice job breaking the pass up.
"He was impressive against us. We didn't see him as much on offense in that game, but on defense he played very effectively."
Where Walovitch will play his college football depends on what role he envisions for himself at the next level. He wants to play a position, which would likely mean a Division II destination. Winona State has shown strong interest in him as a defensive back.
If he decides to kick full time, a Division I role isn't far fetched.
"Anyone who can hit a 51-yard field goal in high school obviously has the ability to kick in college," Ahsmann said. "And he averages almost 40 yards a punt. He doesn't want to be just a kicker, but he could be a good one if that's what he eventually chooses. He really hasn't concentrated on it full time yet and he's already kicking at a really high level."
"I'd rather use my hands and speed," Walovitch said. "Obviously, I'm keeping my options open. If the opportunity is there at a bigger school, I'd definitely consider it (kicking full time)."
Whichever college program eventually grabs CL South's Mr. Everything will be landing a player who knows about endurance.
"Other than a few plays we were able to spell him on offense, he was out there for 90 percent of our plays," Ahsmann marveled. "I'm truly amazed that anyone can play that much of a football game at the Class 7A level. He's so durable to be able to do it at a very high level.
"We were blessed to have him."