Immediate and long term, every football team sets goals for itself.
Among Benet's goals at the start of the season were to post a winning record and compete for the East Suburban Catholic Conference title. Easier said than done on the latter, especially considering the strength of the league and the Redwings' nine-game ESCC losing streak heading into the season.
The streak stretched to 10 straight in Week 3 following a heartbreaking 17-16 loss to St. Patrick, but Benet (3-1, 0-1) gets a prime chance to break it in Friday's game against winless Marian Catholic at Lisle's Benedictine University.
"We need to get on the board in the ESCC," said Redwings coach Pat New. "The guys are hungry for that."
Interestingly, New's teams are unbeaten in regular-season nonconference games since he became the head coach in 2010. The Redwings have beaten Oswego East, Marian Central Catholic, Glenbard South, Washington in South Bend, Ind., Washington from the Chicago Public League, South Elgin and Rich Central.
The key going forward is carrying over that success to the ESCC, a tall task against St. Viator, Nazareth, Marist and Joliet Catholic. After this week Benet's final four opponents boast a combined record of 12-4.
"We haven't done well in the conference and we've got to change that," New said.
Rushing to records:
We don't want to jinx them, but...
Waubonsie Valley senior tailback Austin Guido and Neuqua Valley senior tailback Joey Rhattigan are in pursuit of their respective programs' single-season and all-time rushing records.
On the season the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Guido has run for 844 yards on 96 carries, including a Warriors' record 38 carries in the opener against Naperville Central. Waubonsie's single-season rushing yardage mark is Marcus Forest's 1,692 yards in 1991.
Guido is aiming for the 3,000 yards of Tyrone Gooch set in 1994-95. In his third year on the varsity level, Guido already has run for 2,593 yards.
Rhattigan, the 6-foot, 200-pound Neuqua slasher, is aiming for the 2,886-yard mark set by Anton Williams from 2005-07. Rhattigan enters Week 5 with 2,332 total yards rushing, cruising past Bryen Johnson, Alan Smith and Mike Genslinger into second place behind Williams.
Rhattigan's 712 yards rushing through the first four games this season puts him on pace to eclipse Williams' Wildcats single-season record of 1,485 yards in 2007. Rhattigan owns Neuqua's No. 5 spot with his junior-year mark of 1,271 yards rushing.
By late last Friday night, video of Wheaton Warrenville South's last-second victory over Naperville North already began circulating on YouTube. The 47-yard tipped touchdown catch by Brandon Moore gave the Tigers a stunning 24-21 victory heading into their Week 5 game against Naperville Central.
The video obviously didn't sneak by Redhawks coach Mike Stine, who received the game as part of the tape exchange with WW South. While he studied the entire game, Stine's particularly concerned about the ending.
"They find a way to win," Stine said.
With that in mind, Stine made sure to show the shocking finale to his entire team.
"We showed them the end of the game, and especially the celebration," Stine said. "Our guys need to realize that that's the team coming in here. They're fired up, and we have to be ready to meet that energy level."
Hitting the road:
Life in the Metro Suburban Conference will become a little easier once West Chicago comes aboard. Until then the league's five football schools need to search long and hard to fill their schedules.
Fenton hits the road this weekend for a Friday night game at Northrop High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. After starting the season 0-3 the Bruins have rebounded to win their last two.
"We needed a Week 5 game, so it'll be interesting to see how we do," said Fenton coach Mark Kos, who noted the alternative was a powerhouse program in Minnesota.
The Bison will get out of school at 10:45 a.m. and try to hit the road by 11:30 after a meeting and equipment check. For the first hour of the four-hour trek, the team will just settle in for the ride. For the second hour, Kos will take advantage of the television monitors on the charter bus to watch game film.
Midway through the trip the team will make a stop for lunch and allow the players to stretch their legs. After the game Kos expects the team to arrive back in Bensenville by about 2 a.m.
Kos is giving his players Saturday off while he and his assistants meet to begin working on Fenton's Week 6 MSC game against Ridgewood.
"We're looking forward to it," Kos said. "It should be a good team bonding experience for us."
View from the sideline:
As good as he's already been for Glenbard North, junior running back Justin Jackson outdid himself -- and everyone else in program history -- during the Panthers' 56-14 DuPage Valley Conference victory over Glenbard East.
Jackson needed only 12 carries to rush for a program-record 351 yards and 4 touchdowns. As if 29 yards per carry wasn't enough, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound junior added an 82-yard kick return for a touchdown.
At one point Jackson scored on three straight offensive plays: a 61-yard touchdown run, an 80-yard touchdown and another 61-yarder.
"We finished with more touchdowns than first downs," said Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens. "At one point (defensive coordinator Rich Smelko) asked us not to score so fast because the defense was on the field the whole time."
All hands on deck:
How low is Wheaton Academy on players? Last Thursday head coach T.J. Ragan joined the scout team.
Due to mounting injuries the Warriors may be down to 16 or 17 varsity players for Saturday's game at Walther Lutheran. Matt Lindsay (back), Nate Lopez (ankle/shin), John Mark Wiersema (ankle) are the latest casualties. Wheaton Academy has already lost Peter Ferrill, Josh Adams, Tommy Miller and Ragan's own son, James, for the season. When one of these players goes down, it generally equals two starting positions.
T.J. Ragan, however, said: "There's no pity party. I think that's a testament right now to the program."
After playing four teams with a combined record of 15-1 the Warriors' schedule eases except for the Week 9 meeting with Marian Central. Ragan said despite the decimated roster, attitude is high.
"The guys' spirits are up," he said Wednesday. "Yesterday might have been our best practice of the year."
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