BATAVIA – Rosters and flip cards identify Batavia junior Anthony Thielk as a 6-foot-2, 215-pound running back/linebacker.
Not wanting to send anyone back to the printer’s, Thielk still volunteers a greater truth.
“I’m actually 220,” he grins. “Just to make that clear.”
Aspiring to a bigger role with the Bulldogs after emerging during the 2011 playoffs, Thielk finds himself doing more than bulking up. Eating lots of meat and chugging Gatorade goes with that territory. To be a true leader, Thielk’s mouth must be moving when it isn’t full. No problem so far.
“Last year, because I was a sophomore, I was kind of holding myself back from what I could actually do just because I knew we had so many good seniors on our team and I was waiting for them to make a play,” Thielk said. “Waiting for them to do something. This year, I’m more in control. I want to make a play and I’m more aggressive.”
Thielk enjoys no shortage of opportunities to spark Batavia. He ranks second in carries (40) and rushing yards (291) entering tonight’s Upstate Eight Conference River Division game against St. Charles North, has 1.5 sacks and an interception and also has excelled as an up blocker on kickoff returns.
Cramping through a balmy night during the Bulldogs’ 42-41 season-opening victory at Glenbard North in late August, Thielk wasn’t as effective as he wanted to be. He vows to make a greater impression as temperatures get cooler, along with a handful of teammates of similar builds.
“We’ve got a lot of big-bodied, big-lower legged, thick guys who, as the conditions have gotten better, it just energizes our team,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “It’s been really a fun thing for us to see the guys improve to the weather conditions getting better.”
A handful of other Bulldogs as well as a referee cramped or showed other signs of dehydration during the Glenbard North game.
One who didn’t, junior Anthony Scaccia, capitalized on extended carries and has grown as yet another offensive weapon in Piron’s arsenal since.
The team targeted Thielk as a two-way impact player no matter what, but Scaccia – a lithe wrestler happy to be 5-7, 150 – has provided a natural breather along with 700 yards and five touchdowns, tied with Thielk for the team lead.
“We thought Anthony would be having to take a lot of the running back reps,” senior linebacker Cullin Rokos said, “but with Scaccia stepping in and doing the job he’s been doing, that’s really helped him be able to go both ways easier. It’s nice to have someone with that size on either side.”
Starting alongside fellow two-way classmate Michael Moffatt, a defensive back/wide receiver, Thielk helped the Bulldogs to a 12-0 start last fall and a berth in the Class 6A state semifinals.
His playoff contributions included a 10-carry, 67-yard effort in a quarterfinal romp at Lakes and a go-ahead, one-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter of the Bulldogs’ second-round rally past Lake Forest.
Though Thielk registered on Batavia’s radar from the start of his sophomore season – namely with a 99-yard kickoff return TD against Bartlett in Week 4 – he was conscious about keeping clear of potentially stepping on seniors’ toes.
Even as an unquestioned team leader in 2012, Thielk is prideful the silent strength that comes with simply looking ahead and running. Then again, he’s doing that for upwards of 40 minutes each week, so maybe it’s habitual.
“You just have to always stay positive, because you’re going to be tired. Either side of the ball, I’ve been dead tired and not wanting to do it, but you have to,” Thielk said. “You’re supposed to go hard every play, but pacing yourself, almost...I don’t want to say it. You just have to know your body and know what you’re doing.”
Thielk has let it be known he’s a little bigger than the roster indicates. Count fact-checker among the rest of his many roles.