SOMERS – Anthony Corona’s athleticism was on full display last Friday at the Doctors of Physical Therapy Holiday Hoops Classic at Carthage College.
He doesn’t really need to play high school basketball anymore, and everyone would understand if he took his senior season off considering he’s gearing up to play Division 1 college football this fall, but Corona is a throwback.
The three-sport stud athlete actually scored 15 points in a big win against Tremper at the annual high school hoops showcase, and his slashing to the bucket and touch around the rim showed what Illinois State University was looking for in the 6-foot-1 , 195-pound power house.
Specializing in one sport was never an option.
“My coach (at Illinois State) was super supportive,” Corona said on the Tarble Arena basketball court after Wilmot’s victory over Tremper. “He wanted me to play all the sports I could.”
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“Basketball is really not that much of a sport where I could get injured. I want to run track, I did the 100 and 200 last year.”
But don’t get it twisted, people, football is his jam.
Just ask the countless ball-carriers that fell victim to Corona’s rare combination of elite speed, power and football instincts. The Panthers’ leading tackler totaled 135 in only eight games, and he actually tied a state record with 32 in one game – the final game of his high school career against Kenosha County rival Central, arguably the area’s best team.
“I had way less games than anyone else, too, my tackles per game, I had the most in state,” Corona said.
For his efforts, Corona earned all-state, all-region and all-conference honors, and he is the 2022 Kenosha News All-County Football Player of the Year.
After starting 3-0, Wilmot only won one of its final six games, but Corona definitely did his part on and off the field.
“We played Cover 3 most of the year, but it split up,” Corona said. “I was mostly getting the tackles, and I would drop into coverage.
“I like checking the guards, they show you if it’s a run or pass right away, and the quarterback will tell you where the ball’s going. You have to do some research before the game. As soon as I see where’s it going, I go. I usually can’t get there right away, because they have so many people coming out to guard me. Most of the time, I just go right through the blocker.”
“They don’t think it’s coming. Most people don’t take on four guards.”
Corona even toted the rock 10 times, racking up 146 yards and four touchdowns – 88 of which came on one touchdown run.
And he showed his lightning-fast running ability with two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
The young man Wilmot head coach Keiya Square calls one of the best defensive players he’s ever coached is more than ready to play football at the college level, where he will play linebacker.
Illinois State is technically a 1-AA school, which is a notch below the Wisconsins and Ohio States of the world, but it’s still a full scholarship, and look at the impressive list of successful 1-AA stars: Walter Payton, Tony Romo, Christian Watson, Carson Wentz, Trey Lance, and the list goes on.
“Their head coach coached at Purdue and sent more than 50 guys to the NFL,” Corona added. “I’m really close with the linebackers coach, and they were really good to me.”
Corona said North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri State all offered scholarships, and he even came close to an offer from the Division 1 Kansas Jayhawks.
“The full scholarship is going to be really nice,” Corona added.
He said both of his parents are engineers, and he wants to major in Business Management. He wants to own a business or be a part of one that’s very successful.
Anthony’s mom is from Racine, and his dad is from Milwaukee.
So what’s next for the football star?
“We leave June 10th, and I’ll start summer ball then,” Corona said. “We stay there eight weeks, leave for two, then the season starts. I’ll be playing inside linebacker. They want me to keep my speed and not gain a lot of weight. Their inside is more of a coverage, faster guy.
“Since I played safety in high school, that’s the reason they have me inside.”
What does it mean to be named player of the year?
“It means a lot,” Corona said. “I’ve been working hard for it, so it feels good people recognize it. To bring Wilmot a good name, we deserve it. The coaches are really great. It means a lot for the Wilmot program and for me, too.”
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