By Mark Gregory
While hurricanes are bringing danger to Texas, Louisiana and Florida, the Hurricanes of Marian Central Catholic could hardly muster a breeze in a 27-0 loss to the host Benet Academy.
A week ago, Benet got off to a slow start in an East Suburban Catholic Conference lost to Niles Notre Dame in front of its home crowd.
The Redwings knew if they wanted to open the season 2-1 instead of 1-2, they would need to establish momentum early on against a Marian Central Catholic team that came in undefeated and ranked No. 3 in Class 5A by EdgyTim.com.
However, not even Bent coach Pat New could have expected the start it had.
The Redwings scored on their first possession was a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Boyle to Ben Cooney.
On Marian’s first offensive possession, Connor Reid jumped a route and took the ball 18-yards in for the score to give Benet a 14-0 lead. It would be the first of five interceptions for the Redwing defenders on the night.
“Our defensive line got good push on the quarterback and forced him to throw it really early and I was able to undercut the route and score,” said Reid, who had a pair of interceptions on the night. “(The quick 14-0 lead) really helped the momentum. Especially coming off a loss, we really wanted to take it to them and that really set the tone. This conference never gets easier.”
A Michael Wymer blocked punt then led to a Victor Karam field goal, giving Benet a 17-0 lead less than seven minutes into the contest.
“That set the tone for the game,” said Benet coach Pat New. “That was exciting. Especially after last week, we had such a hard time getting started, so it was great to get out of the blocks tonight.”
Wymer had one of the five Benet picks, while Cooney, who had eight interceptions last year, also had a pair of interceptions in the game.
“Once we were up 14 and 17, we knew they had to start to throw the ball and our D-Line started to get good push and forcing bad throws and the ball ended up right where we wanted it,” Cooney said.
Cooney is on the field a lot this season, as he is contributing on offense this season and had the opening touchdown catch, as well as a returner in the kicking game.
“It is really fun. I like playing offense a lot,” he said. “It can get tiring at times and when I can get that one play off for a breather, it’s nice, but I like being out there.”
Boyle added a 22-yard touchdown run before the half to give Benet a 24-0 lead at the break.
While the defense held tight in the second half, the offense mustered only one more Karam field goal.
“The defense was spectacular tonight and that is what we expect from those guys – to step up and play fast and physical and they did,” New said. “I think the second half was a little sloppy and we need to do a better job at that, but last week, we competed hard in the second half, so I think the score had something to with that tonight.”
The shutout was the first for Benet since September 12, 2014 when it blanked Notre Dame 23-0 – again in week 3 of the season.
New said, however, that the team’s potential is not even where it can be.
“It is all about keeping guys focused on how we are compared to our potential and not what the scoreboard says,” he said. “I think that is our job as coaches to make sure we reach that potential.”
Cooney agrees with his coach.
“We have a really young defense, so there is still plenty of room for improvement,” he said. “By the end of the year, we think we can be really tough.”
Benet now hosts St. Viator (2-1), who defeated Chicago Heights Marian Catholic 51-14.