Disappointment morphed into motivation for Benet's football team.
Coming off a state semifinal appearance in 2012, the Redwings looked like worldbeaters while racing to a 6-0 record last season.
The final four games of the season? Not so memorable.
Four straight losses -- capped by a 49-6 first-round playoff loss to eventual Class 7A champion Mt. Carmel -- provided the springboard for an off-season filled with hard work.
"It was tough," said Benet coach Pat New. "The expectations were so high that I think it hit everyone hard."
Regardless of how last season ended, the Redwings believe they remain close to their elite status from 2012.
A key will be overcoming the transfer to Fenwick of two-year starting quarterback and Iowa-bound Jack Beneventi. New, however, has confidence in sophomore Jack Sznajder, who last season guided the Redwings to a second straight unbeaten season at the sophomore level.
"I've been real happy with him," New said. "He's a gamer."
Injuries devastated Benet last season, but it also allowed younger players to gain valuable experience. Running back Brad Sznajder stepped up to rush for 814 yards and 9 touchdowns. With Sean O'Connor, Connor O'Donnell and Tyler Takahashi returning to the offensive line, the ground game should be solid.
Injuries hampered the Redwings on the other side of the ball as well, but defense was still a strength. Players like returning lineman Jack Kelly, linebacker Brian Runger and safety Mac Cooney helped hold the unit together.
"We've had two real good years on defense, and we'd like to keep it going," New said. "We're not real big or fast, but they're good football players."
That'll come in handy considering Benet's rugged schedule that begins with Downers Grove South and runs through the wicked East Suburban Catholic Conference.
"We're still trying to figure out where everyone will go, but I'll be excited to see them compete," New said.
Coach: Pat New (fifth year, 23-19).
2013 record: 6-4, 3-3, fifth in East Suburban Catholic Conference.
Top players: Brad Sznajder (RB, 5-7, 175, sr.); Jack Kelly (DL, 5-8, 220, sr.); Sean O'Connor (OL, 6-4, 265, sr.); Connor O'Donnell (OL, 6-4, 210, sr.); Tyler Takahashi (OL, 6-1, 230, sr.); Brian Runger (LB, 6-0, 200, sr.); Trent Kramer (DL, 6-2, 240, jr.); Jack Sznajder (QB, 6-1, 180, so.); Mac Cooney (DB, 5-9, 165, sr.).
Fri, 8/29 Downers Grove South at Benet 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/5 Benet at O'Fallon Township 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/12 Benet at Notre Dame 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/19 St. Patrick at Benet 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/26 Benet at Marist 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/3 Nazareth at Benet 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/10 Carmel at Benet 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/17 Benet at Joliet Catholic Academy 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/24 Marian Catholic at Benet 7:30 p.m.