Asked in the offseason if he could handle carrying the ball 20-plus times a game, Chris Giatras answered with a resounding yes.
The senior running back then went out this fall and backed it up.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder averaged 6.2 yards per carry and compiled 1,592 yards while scoring 25 touchdowns.
“He was a remarkably tough runner,” said Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen. “Pound for pound, he’s a really tough kid. And he is definitely a fiery kid. Football meant a lot to him and he worked real hard to be as good as he could be.”
There was a time when the thought of Giatras as a feature back was nothing more than a pipe dream. He strictly played defense up until eighth grade when, after making the Lemont Hornets youth team, he was placed at running back.
“I loved it, it was so much fun,” Giatras said. “You don’t have to go to the action, the action finds you. There is never a dull moment.”
A fullback and tight end his first three years at Lemont, Giatras made the transition to tailback in the offseason. And while Michaelsen and his staff had an idea that Giatras could handle the responsibility, the Lemont coach admits that his senior exceeded expectations this fall.
“We had an idea but you never know until you get out there,” Michaelsen said.
Blocking for Mike Anzalone a year ago, Giatras set his sights on exceeding the graduated senior’s numbers of 1,456 yards and 17 touchdowns. But that was far from his main goal.
“Win state or die trying,” Giatras said of his mindset coming into the 2012 season. “That was the only thing that mattered to me; try so hard to reach the ultimate goal and everything else would fall in place. And I would say it did up until last week (when Lemont lost in the semifinals).”
Individually, the senior grew leaps and bounds as a runner.
“The past couple of years,” he said, “every carry I got was up the gut. You try to make the most of it, the thought is to run low and bury your head with everything you’ve got. The main thing that changed for me this year was I was patient with the big guys out in front of me.”
The big guys Giatras referred to were his offensive linemen, a group that dominated the line of scrimmage.
“It was unfair,” the running back said. “I don’t know how else to word it. I apologized to defenses for my O-line but I didn’t want to offend my O-line. They made what I did not so impressive. To sum it up, it was fun (running behind them). It was just a blast.”
A true definition of a workhorse, this senior running back carried the ball 257 times this fall, averaging 6.2 yards per attempt. Giatras finished with 1,592 rushing yards and most importantly, found the end zone 25 times.