For all the muscle that paved the way for Marmion's 35-14 win at Aurora Christian Friday night, Cadets coach Dan Thorpe made sure to thank his peanuts, too.
Those peanuts would be the Cadets' defensive linemen like Nick Ferraro, Malcolm Confer, Joe Talbot and Paul Khoury who made life miserable for a normally high-scoring Eagles offense.
Aurora Christian got almost nothing going in four quarters, scoring one of its two touchdowns on a Noah Roberts punt return.
Thorpe and his coaching staff made a change in their philosophy heading into this season. Instead of putting the traditional big boys on the defensive line, the Cadets looked for a different kind of player -- and the results are pretty impressive in their 5-1 season.
"We made a choice coaching wise not to put eight slow guys that you traditionally you feel you need to plug on defense," Thorpe said. "We went with smaller, quicker guys because we watched the playoffs last year that worked. We didn't get caught up in height and weight, we got caught up in effort and getting after the quarterback and technique."
Catching the fastball: While junior running back Jordan Glasgow kept plenty busy rushing the ball 16 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns, he also turned out to be quarterback Brock Krueger's favorite target in the passing game.
Glasgow caught 3 passes for 38 yards and another touchdown. He took advantage of the Eagles' blitzing linebackers to find holes in the defense, then impressed Thorpe with his hands by hauling in some hard-thrown balls from Krueger.
"Jordan Glasgow has some nice hands," Thorpe said. "Those were some fast-thrown balls."
Top-notch backup: Reserve Jimmy Rogers stepped up when the Cadets needed him, entering the game at guard when center Andy Matthews suffered an early knee injury. Luke Juriga slid from guard to center.
"I'm really proud of Jimmy Rogers stepping it at guard, Luke Juriga stepping in at center," Thorpe said. "That's not easy snapping those snaps and looking up and someone is in your face."
Backup plan: Now it's the Eagles who need a backup to step up after quarterback Austin Bray was lost for the rest of the regular season with a shoulder injury.
"Our problem now is we have no quarterback," Eagles coach Don Beebe said. "Austin I hope we get him for the first playoff game which that might not happen. I'm in a car for 6 hours going to Kent State (Saturday), I'll think about it."
Burns sparks Geneva: While the offensive line and running back TJ Miller's four touchdown runs got a lot of the credit for Geneva's crucial 35-21 victory over visiting St. Charles East, the Vikings also unleashed a new weapon that had a lot to do with taking time off the clock and compiling 23 first downs in the game.
In his first heavy action of the season, junior tailback Liam Burns carried the ball 15 times for 72 yards, showing a balance of power and speed that will make Geneva's offense even more potent down the stretch.
"We've been trying to work Burns in there, and every time we get close, he gets hurt," Wicinski says. "He came into the season hurt, but he's a kid we are trying to develop. I am glad we got him in there because he really works hard and his motor is always running."
Mitchell on the run: The Geneva defensive line also had its motor running, chasing Saints' quarterback Jimmy Mitchell out of the pocket often.
Defensive end Billy Douds and his cohorts caused plenty of hurried passes and record some key sacks in the contest.
"They definitely converted on a lot of big third- and fourth-down plays, and that really killed us," Douds said of the Saints. "But we hung in there and kept playing and eventually got some stops."
The Saints gained 255 yards through the air, but Geneva held St. Charles East to only 79 yards rushing.