Marmion senior Myles Schoonover flashed a knowing smile after his football team improved to 3-0 with a 21-0 win over St. Francis in the Chicago Catholic League Green opener in Aurora Friday.
It was the kind of unstoppable smile a player wears when he knows his senior season is developing into something special, the kind of grin that soothes the memory of last year's 3-6 campaign, when one of those wins came by forfeit.
Most of all, it was the kind of satisfying smile a player has after shutting out the team that drilled his squad 53-7 the year before.
"We just wanted to play as a team," said Schoonover, a 5-foot-11, 173-pound defensive back who made 2 interceptions. "Last year we lost 53-7 and there wasn't a whole lot of team chemistry. This year we've built up a lot of team chemistry, we were able to execute and we were able to come out with the win."
Coach Dan Thorpe's Cadets are 3-0 for the second time in three seasons, thanks largely to a senior-led defense that frustrated winless St. Francis and it's young skill position players all night. The Spartans started five sophomores against Marmion, a few of whom played both ways.
Schoonover and defensive linemen Weston Kramer and Calvin McDonald led the Marmion defense to its second shutout of the season by holding the Spartans to 180 total yards and winning the turnover battle 4-1.
"The effort on defense was awesome," said Haas, a two-way player. "Our defensive coordinator, coach (Jim) Bonebrake is really hard on us and that's the reason we've only let up 6 points this whole season. We plan to keep that going."
Marmion's defense recovered a fumble to thwart St. Francis' first drive, the Cadets stuffed the Spartans three-and-out on their second possession and they quashed a third St. Francis drive with Schoonover's first interception.
That gave the Marmion offense, which did not pick up a first down in it first 3 possessions, time to get on track. The Cadets finally broke through one play after Schoonover's interception when quarterback Brandon McPherson spotted Haas behind the defense for a 64-yard touchdown reception.
"It was actually a post route," Haas said. "I took a bad angle but it ended up working at the end. My quarterback, Brandon McPherson, great, great arm. It was an awesome pass, perfect, right out for me to catch it."
The Cadets took a 14-0 lead with 9:09 left in the second quarter when Haas scored on a 4-yard run to cap a 7-play, 47-yard drive, the key play of which was a 28-yard pass from senior quarterback Collin Gibson to McPherson, who laid out to make a diving catch.
Desperate to get some offense going, St. Francis went for it on fourth down at midfield on their ensuing possession, but a reverse was stopped for a loss by Marmion senior linebacker Nick Sevenich.
The Cadet offense struck on the next play as Gibson connected with an open Anthony Zolfo in the middle of the field for a 52-yard touchdown pass.
St. Francis rushed for 105 yards but completed 11 of 26 pass attempts for 75 yards with 3 interceptions.
"I think we're definitely close," 6-foot-8, 294-pound senior tackle Anthony DeFeo said of the St. Francis offense, which has scored 14 points in 3 games. "A lot of times we find ourselves facing teams that are stacking the box and stopping the run and forcing us to pass. Those passes are right there. We had receivers slipping, we had a few plays that we miscommunicated, but we were right there. We just have to start completing passes."