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Benet wide receiver Jack Euritt (middle) protects the ball as he slips through Nazareth Academy defenders Aeneas White (29), Mykal Neal (3), and Nicholas Murphy (22) for a big gain after a catch. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Officially in the Class 7A postseason field for the first time since 2010 after recording a second straight shutout and fourth overall on the season, Benet’s focus can somewhat shift towards its positioning within the Class 7A bracket.
But that won’t be easy with a pair of Super 25 ranked East Suburban Catholic foes still left on the Redwings’ schedule, beginning with seventh-ranked Marist on Friday in the Naperville Sun Season Pass Spotlight Game on HighSchoolCube.com.
While the defense was in the midst of controlling Nazareth from start to finish last week in holding the Roadrunners to 118 total yards and recording four sacks in their 49-0 shutout, Redwings’ sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi went to work.
Throwing for 304 yards and four touchdowns, including two each to senior wideouts Jack Euritt and Jack Toner, Beneventi was very efficient in completing 13 of 17 passes on the night.
Given the solid production Benet (6-1, 3-1) has received all year from the running back position, courtesy of its junior duo of Porter Ontko and Nick McTarnaghan, Beneventi’s continued development will be as key as any other aspect in regards to its long-term postseason aspirations.
“As long as our passing game is efficient, I feel confident that our offense can move the ball and put up some points,” Benet coach Pat New said. “They’ve got a very, very good defensive lineman in Shannon Smith, who’s a big-time prospect. He’s a great player and their defensive backs are really good ball-hawks. They really get after the ball and create big plays.
“But I think, again, if we can protect the ball and be efficient in the pass game, I think we got a good chance to score some points.”
Collectively, the Redwings probably get their stiffest challenge to date on both sides of the ball in the undefeated RedHawks (7-0, 5-0).
“No doubt. These guys are a great football team, so this will be a tough one for us,” New said.
Trailing Notre Dame by a touchdown midway through the third quarter last week, defensive back Jack Barry went to work for the RedHawks.
Intercepting a pass from Dons’ quarterback Dan Nagode, Barry helped set up the game-tying score, a touchdown reception from junior Nic Weishar, before recovering a fumble and returning it 33 yards to the house for a TD and eventually giving Marist a 21-14 victory.
Marist senior QB Ian Woodworth threw for 207 yards and the touchdown pass to the 6-foot-5 Weishar but was picked off twice by Notre Dame.
While the RedHawks are averaging 32.3 points on offense, New is encouraged by the job his defense turned in a year ago against the RedHawks.
Despite losing 17-14, Benet held Marist to its lowest point total of the season and a similar effort from a defense that continues to impress will be required tonight for Benet to stay alive for its first-ever ESCC title.
“We’ve talked about that all year. We’ve put pictures up of the blank banner that’s in the gym,” New said. “Shoot, we’ve got 20 tennis titles and 12 different golf titles and now basketball has won it the last three years, so we keep saying, ‘It’s gotta be our time now. The football team’s’ and this is what we’ve really focused on.”