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Coming away with the program’s first postseason victory since 2006 last week, Benet’s recipe was all too familiar in its 24-10 victory over Andrew: great defense coupled with an opportunistic offense.
Entering its Class 7A second-round tilt with third-seeded Oswego on a seven-game winning streak and armed with the program’s first nine-win campaign since 1997, second-seeded Benet will be looking to keep the good times rolling by doing what it’s done all year.
“Pretty much everything (is impressive). It’s one of those (where) we watch the films that we have on them and I’m impressed with what they do in all three phases of the football,” first-year Panthers’ coach Brian Cooney said of the Redwings. “They’re very talented and it’s obvious to see that they’re very well-coached.
“So we’re impressed with just about everything that (they) do. It’s gonna be a tough task for us to find any weaknesses and try to exploit them. But we’ll try to get a feel for that as the flow of the game progresses.”
Holding its sixth opponent on the season to 10 points or less, the Redwings’ defense set the tone last week against Andrew, while sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi completed 26 of his 33 passes for 255 yards and threw TD passes to Nick McTarnaghan and Nick Surges.
The 6-foot-6, 185-pound Beneventi, who has completed 65.7 percent of his passes for 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns through Benet’s first 10 games, seemingly is getting better with each passing week, a very scary thought for any Benet opponents the rest of the way.
Having weapons the likes of McTarnaghan, Surges, Porter Ontko, Jack Toner and Jack Euritt surrounding the Redwings’ young signal-caller doesn’t hurt matters, which is something Cooney is well aware of.
“They do offset a very talented and they take the heat off of a very talented young quarterback. What they do with the Ontko kid is impressive,” Cooney said. “Put him in the slot, motion across or tuck him right next to that quarterback. … I mean, he’s talented and the three main wideouts that they have—the Joe (Batina) and the two Jacks—they’re quite a crew. So he’s got some talent on the offensive side.”
Meanwhile, the Panthers also enter tonight’s game in Lisle at 9-1 while riding an eight-game winning streak, losing 54-28 in Week 2 to Waubonsie Valley.
After doing a commendable job on Andrew running back Jarvion Franklin last week, Benet’s defense now has to deal with Panthers’ senior running back Mickeel Stewart.
Highlighting an Oswego offense averaging 40.7 points a game, Stewart has run for 1,201 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season, while Oswego senior quarterback Brett Wainwright has thrown for 896 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 11 of those 16 touchdowns going to Jack Kwiatkowski.
Kwiatkowski grabbed three touchdown passes from Wainwright last week in the Panthers’ 28-21 victory over No. 6 Plainfield North.
But as Benet coach Pat New is quick to point out, the Panthers’ success in 2012 hasn’t been all about their high-octane offense.
While the Redwings’ defense has posted four shutouts on the year in the midst of holding six opponents to 10 points or less, Oswego’s defense has held five of its opponents to seven points or less, including shutting out both Minooka and Romeoville.
“This team is very good on both sides of the ball. They bring a lot of pressure on defense. They’re very fast and athletic defensively,” New said. “On the offensive side of the ball, they’re really a power-run team and they control the ball, control the clock and have some very good athletes who can make some big plays.”
Playing each other tonight for the first time since 2008, Oswego has won its last three meetings with Benet, dating back from 2006-08. A fourth straight victory in the series would give Oswego its first state quarterfinal appearance since 2006.
On the other hand, with a victory, Benet will reach a state quarterfinal for the first time since 2003 and grab its first double-digit winning season since 1986—New’s senior year at Benet.
“Yeah, that’s big. I said every week gets bigger and bigger for all these teams competing. Whoever wins, if you win this week, you’re down to the final eight teams in your class,” New said. “So it gets pretty exciting.”