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updated: 10/31/2013 11:13 PM

Aurora Christian hoping to get healthy

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  • Legend Smith ran for 166 yads in Aurora Christian's first meeting this year against IC Catholic Prep.

      Legend Smith ran for 166 yads in Aurora Christian's first meeting this year against IC Catholic Prep.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer


Representing a school that repeatedly stresses its appreciation for the Almighty, the Aurora Christian football team has had ample opportunity to do just that.

"This team has prayed more than any other team I've had, just because they've faced more adversity than any other team I've had," said Eagles coach Don Beebe.

The adversity has been a wave of injuries that have shelved quarterback Austin Bray, lineman Jonah Walker, receivers Noah Hagerty, Brandon Walgren and Noah Roberts, tight end Jackson Carpenter, linebackers Trevor Hills and Dan Clapp and defensive back Chase Tomney.

These players alone form a core that could compete for a third straight Class 3A state championship. Before Saturday's first-round game Beebe wasn't quite sure which, if any, would play against familiar No. 7 seed and host IC Catholic Prep (6-3).

Only Tomney was ruled out, but none of the others had yet to be ruled in for No. 10 seed Aurora Christian (6-3). Beebe and his brother, defensive coordinator David, ran the injured players through "mental reps" earlier this week alongside healthy teammates such as running back Legend Smith, freshman quarterback Ben Weerts and a more intact group of offensive line including Nathan Wells, Jack Burke, Tristan Withrow, Jon Czerwinski, Matt Ward and Jake Smith.

Better to be reinjured in a playoff game than to be reinjured in practice.

IC Catholic coach Bill Krefft is taking no chances. The Knights are preparing for a fully loaded Aurora Christian. Even if most of the injured Eagles remain on the sideline, even if IC won the Week 7 Suburban Christian Conference crossover 48-6, he remembers Smith running 33 times for 166 yards.

"We are of the mindset that they beat us in the playoffs last year (28-21) and knocked us out, and it's going to be a four-quarter war," Krefft said. "Regardless, they're a very good 3A football team."

The Knights feature running back Randy Leslie, but in a spread offense that includes quarterback Jack Copher, receivers Clark Brinkman, Rhashaun Epting and Jordan Rowell. Defensive lineman Sam Symeonides leads IC in tackles.

If even just Bray were to return IC would face more diversity than Smith, whose 331 yards rushing last week against Guerin were 5 yards shy of Matt Russell's 2005 program record.

At 1 p.m. Saturday we'll see just how iffy.

"They're all going to board the bus," said Beebe.

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