By Chris Vara
For the Bugle
It was a night for the understudies at Benet Academy.
A new quarterback making his first start, a cornerback asked to fill in at running back—his first time in the role since grade school—and an assistant coach asked to fill in at the last second.
All fulfilled their duties admirably as the Redwings rolled to a comfortable 49-13 homecoming win over Marian Catholic.
The Redwings (4-2, 3-1 East Suburban Catholic) plan was to keep things simple for sophomore quarterback Colin Gillespie, who was filling for injured senior quarterback Matthew Boyle.
He went 9-of-17 passing for 137 yards and had three carries for 14 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter.
“I thought he did a wonderful job tonight,” said Redwings assistant coach Jeff Hembrough, filling in for head coach Pat New as a last-minute sub due to personal reasons. “He was a little anxious to start with, but he settled down and threw the ball well and ran the ball well for us.”
Much of their offensive attack stayed on the ground and they shared the ball to prevent the Spartans (0-6, 0-4) from zeroing in on one player. The strategy worked to devastating effect as the Redwings scored seven rushing touchdowns with five different players scoring. No single running back had more than 100 yards rushing in the contest, either.
One of their running backs was senior cornerback Ben Cooney, who hadn’t played running back in a game since grade school until Friday. When asked to assist, though, he was more than willing and helped provide some potency to the offense.
“It’s hard for the defense when they don’t have one or two options,” Cooney said, who had six carries for 71 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He also had three receptions for 21 yards and a 29-yard punt return for the Redwings.
The Redwings’ defense also contributed, forcing five turnovers in the game and keeping the Spartans’ offense mostly at bay.
A blocked punt by junior linebacker Michael Wymer late in the first quarter gave the Redwings the ball in the red zone and gave the offense the opening they needed and stopped the Spartans from possibly smelling an upset.
“It was a really big play,” Wymer said. “And I was glad I contributed. We wanted to get the offense into good field position all night.”
The rushing attack took care of the rest with four rushing touc downs in the second quarter.
Senior running back Connor Reid had two straight touchdowns to get the Redwings up 21-7 midway through the second. After a Spartans touchdown on a 69-yard catch by senior receiver Victor Akinyemi, the Redwings slammed the down with touchdown runs by Cooney and junior running back Bennett Hickey to give the Redwings a 35-13 lead going into the half.
“We wanted to run,” Hembrough said. “We wanted to keep everything simple for our offense and let them do their job. The offensive line did a great job opening holes for us and we were able to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Cooney agreed with the sentiment.
“It feels really good to have contributed like this,” he said.
“It was a tough game, but we really came through.”