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Scheduling two-time defending Class 3A football champion Aurora Christian for homecoming takes guts. IC Catholic Prep has never lacked guts.
"We wanted this game bad," said Knights senior Clark Brinkman. "I mean, it's our homecoming."
It was more than that. No matter how many Aurora Christian players were out injured, the Knights' 48-8 running clock, Suburban Christian Conference crossover victory felt good. It snapped a seven-game skid against the Eagles dating to their Private School League days in 2006.
"That's the first time we've beat them in awhile, so it was pretty gratifying," said IC coach Bill Krefft, improving to 4-3, 3-2. "Our kids are happy as can be. We still know that it's going to be a long run and we're going to make a run in the playoffs and we're probably going to see them again."
Aurora Christian (5-2, 3-2) started freshman quarterback Ben Weerts for injured quarterback Austin Bray, out along with such banged-up Eagles as Noah Roberts, Brandon Walgren, Noah Hagerty, M.J. Zepeda and linebacker Trevor Hills. At least 10 starting positions were affected.
"It's not an excuse," said Aurora Christian defensive coordinator David Beebe. "I mean, IC played a great game, they're a great team."
"It's unfortunate, but again, we have to step up and just do what we've got to do," said Aurora Christian tailback Legend Smith, the bulwark of the offense with a personal-high 33 carries, for 156 yards. "We can't depend on our starters to do everything. (Others) have to step up."
IC's Brinkman did immediately. He took the opening kickoff at the 5-yard line near his own sideline, followed blocks and chipped away until breaking free at midfield for a 95-yard touchdown return.
"My right returner, Jordan Rowell, picked up the first guy," Brinkman said. "I got by one guy and then I had Gene Kirby, I had Sean Placey coming down the field. They all contributed. They all blocked their right man, they all got me through it."
This just wasn't Aurora Christian's day, emphasized by an early weather suspension.
"In 46 seconds we had given up a kickoff return, we had a flag on our kickoff and we were going to come in and try to do some no-huddle," Beebe said. "And after the first play (officials) stopped the game for a half-hour and (IC) had a chance to plan for it. It was not a real good start to a game."
Great for IC, though. On its second play from scrimmage quarterback Jack Copher threw a bubble screen to Brinkman, who again broke it long for a 76-yard touchdown and 14-0 lead by 8:26 of the first quarter.
Aurora Christian linebackers Dan Brown and Daniel Clapp helped silence IC for a bit, but tailback Randy Leslie capped the Knights' last second-quarter possessions with 4- and 45-yard touchdown runs for a 28-0 halftime lead. Copher's 5-yard run, veering off right guard Riley Ricobene, meant a 35-0 lead at 5:57 of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter became the Jordan Rowell show. The IC freshman intercepted a pass and ran for touchdowns of 53 and 78 yards.
In between, however, Weerts saw a silver lining, completing his first varsity touchdown pass on an 8-yard flare to Eddie Velarde.
"It felt good," Weerts said. "It just changed my feel about the game."