In many instances the first games of the high school football season more closely resemble a comedy of errors rather than the tightly choreographed mayhem that epitomizes the sport when it's played at the highest level.
If that is indeed the case, it will be no laughing matter for future opponents to play Benet and St. Laurence as the two teams contested a season opener that would not have been out of place if it had occurred in mid-November. The visiting Vikings had the last laugh in a 31-21 come-from-behind nonconference victory.
"I was particularly impressed with St. Laurence," said Benet coach Pat New. "I told coach (Harold) Blackmon that his team made so few mistakes. I think they just had a couple penalties that hurt them."
After trailing by as much as 17-6, it appeared as if the Redwings (0-1) had broken the will of their guests when they scored on back-to-back drives late in the third and early in the fourth quarter to take a 21-17 lead. Combined the marches totaled 25 plays, covered 148 yards and consumed nearly eight minutes of precious time.
The first tally came on Jack Sznajder's 19-yard pass to Ryan Liszka on a drive that was prolonged twice by St. Laurence pass interference penalties. The second was set up by Ben Cooney's interception and capped when Sznajder bulled in from 4 yards out to give the Redwings their first lead since Alec McEachern's 2-yard plunge made it 6-0 midway through the first quarter.
"I did think we may have broken their will a little, but I still knew that we'd have to score again and we couldn't," New said. "We knew their running backs (Fayezon Smart, Toriano Clinton and Kevin Williams) are real good and we couldn't contain then."
Indeed, Smart, who battled cramps for most of the night but still ran for a game-high 197 yards, put the Vikings (1-0) back on top two plays after Benet's go-ahead score when he sprinted 69 yards to paydirt. He even capped the jaunt by leaning at the goal line as if he had broken a finish-line tape.
Then, after Benet was forced to punt, Smart's 34-yard run moved the ball into Redwings territory before Williams added the clinching score with an 11-yard run with six minutes to play.
After Benet's first score, the Vikings responded with Romello Washington's 20-yard scoring pass to Levy Hamer. Then St. Laurence bridged halftime with a 21-yard field goal from Mauricio Garibay on the final play of the second quarter before Williams completed the Vikings' first second-half possession with a 1-yard run that made it 17-6.
"I like that my team fought back, showed heart and our senior leaders played hard," New said. "Now, it's back to drawing board to see how we can improve from week one to Week 2."