||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
Benet defensive backs Pat Runger and Jack Toner (2) team up to stop Marist receiver Morty Berglind (17) after a short pass completion. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Asked last week what a victory over No. 7 Marist would mean for his program, Benet coach Pat New thought it would just confirm what he, his coaches and his players have thought all year long.
“I think it would prove that we’re a pretty darn good team if we can beat this team,” New said. “Even if we don’t, even if Marist beats us, they’re one of the premier programs in the state. So I think we’re a pretty good team that maybe we can do some good things this year.”
Forty-eight minutes later, the Redwings’ 34-24 upset of the previously unbeaten RedHawks gave an indication of what Benet might be able to do in the Class 7A bracket.
The 10-point victory over Marist, bolstered by the defense forcing four turnovers, put Benet close to a share of its first ESCC crown if it can get a road win over Joliet Catholic on Friday. The Redwings were ranked No. 9 in this week’s AP Class 7A poll.
Entering Friday night’s game in Joliet, Benet’s defense has posted four shutouts while allowing an average of 8.5 points a game, with the 24 points permitted to Marist last week its season-high.
“I’ve said they’re like the ’85 Bears, man. They close and hit the heck out of people, so they remind me of that team,” New said. “They’re playing so physical. It’s unbelievable how hard they hit. It’s like, ‘Man, it’s kind of scary.’ But it’s a good scary. That’s for sure.”
North eyes postseason
Thanks to its 26-23 victory over crosstown rival Naperville Central last Friday, Naperville North grabbed its fifth victory to hit playoff eligibility.
That victory likely ensures Naperville North will be making postseason plans for the 16th straight season.
“Yeah, it’s always nice to be in the playoffs for another year. I mean, that’s what we talk about. That’s what Naperville North is supposed to be,” Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said. “So we’re proud to be in the playoffs again and keep the tradition alive.”
The 23-play, 99-yard drive that took 7:52 off the fourth-quarter clock and eventually ended with a six-yard DeSean Brown TD run could turn out to be the pivotal moment of the Huskies’ season.
“That drive felt like it took forever. That was probably the hardest drive I’ve ever done playing football,” Huskies’ senior quarterback Johnny Brown said. “When we got the personal foul, when they like roughed DeSean up (on a pass interference call on the second play of the drive), that reset the momentum for the drive.
“It deferred to Central and then we noticed that the middle of the field was open, so we hit DeSean on the seam route and that’s what like started everything from there.”
Running off a four-game winning streak following opening losses to Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South, Naperville North (5-3, 4-2 DuPage Valley) gets an opportunity to get a signature win Friday when it hosts Glenbard North. Only one of its five victories has come against a playoff team — Thornton.
The Panthers will be looking to clinch the DVC title outright after claiming at least a share after edging out Wheaton North, 17-15, last week.
“It feels really good to keep it going because we’ve got a really good tradition at Naperville North and we want to make sure we kept it going,” Johnny Brown said.
Central missing postseason
While celebrating its victory over Naperville Central Friday night, one fact wasn’t lost upon Naperville North’s players.
In the process of clinching another trip to the postseason, Naperville North ensured Naperville Central will be on the sidelines during postseason for the second time in three years.
This year marks the first time since 1984-86 that Naperville Central (3-5, 3-3 DuPage Valley) has failed to reach postseason play twice in a three-year span.
Despite finishing both seasons over .500, the program missed out on postseason play in 1984-85 before rebounding with a 9-3 season in 1986, Joe Bunge’s first year.
“I’m extremely proud of our team, the way we battled back. But, you know, it stings,” said Naperville Central coach Mike Stine. “Give credit to Naperville North. They battled back. A couple different times, they battled back.”
Guido, Rhattigan rewrite record books
Already adding to the Waubonsie career rushing mark of 3,349, Waubonsie Valley senior running back Austin Guido enters Friday’s game with Metea Valley with 1,600 rushing yards, 92 yards away from tying the program’s single-season rushing mark.
Marcus Forrest set his mark of 1,692 in 1992, to go along with 23 touchdowns — a mark that Guido will eclipse with his next trip to the end zone.
“It’s a credit to all the guys that are blocking for him. It’s a credit to his ability, but we’re not gonna worry about celebrating until after the season,” Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy said. “Once our season’s over, obviously it’ll mean a lot. But, now, putting a definition on it is too hard because we feel we got a lot more games to play.”
Meanwhile, Neuqua Valley senior running back Joey Rhattigan set a program record of his own with his two touchdowns against Lake Park last week in the Wildcats’ 53-23 victory over the Lancers.
Breaking a tie with Anton Wilkins, Rhattigan now stands with 42 career rushing TDs going into Friday’s game against Bartlett.
“A couple things to that is No. 1, he’s an extremely durable back. He’s able to keep himself healthy,” Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus said. “He trains extremely harder than really most people. I mean, he’s very, very well-trained. He focuses all year long on taking care of his body and because of that, he’s able to put up the numbers he has.
“Second, in order to start really three years in a row like this and do what he’s able to do is a testament to his work ethic. He’s the ultimate team player. He never focuses on how many touchdowns he has or will he get the ball, number of touches, anything like that. I’ve never heard that out of his mouth.”