IC Catholic Prep quarterback Luke Ricobene is at his best when he is under pressure.
Rolling to his right with Riverside-Brookfield defenders closing in for the sack late in the first quarter of Friday's Metro Suburban Blue showdown, Ricobene saw a familiar target, wide receiver Matt Sutton, open in right corner of the end zone. Ricobene threaded a sharp pass through the secondary to Sutton for a 47-yard touchdown catch.
This duo also connected again for a touchdown late in the second quarter and that score gave the host Knights the lead for good as they rolled to a 45-14 victory on homecoming at Plunkett Park in Elmhurst. With the win IC Catholic Prep improves its record to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
"I have been playing with Matt since fifth grade, so we have good chemistry," Ricobene said. "When I was rolling out, I looked to him and we connected on a long one."
"We have known each other forever," Sutton added. "I saw him rolling out. I wasn't supposed to be in the play and I saw him rolling to my side so I threw my hand up and he delivered a perfect ball. It happens all the time. It was similar last year against RB too. The same type of play. He just made the play out of nothing and I was lucky to be there."
When it comes to Ricobene and the IC Catholic Prep offense, luck doesn't have anything to do with it. The Knights have a lot of skill and can beat teams on the ground and in the air. No one stood taller than Ricobene, who passed for 5 touchdowns and ran in another one from 52 yards out. Neither he or his coach, Bill Krefft, could recall if this was the junior's personal-best game in terms of the numbers of touchdowns.
After the Bulldogs (4-2, 1-1) stunned the crowd by scoring on their first play from scrimmage, a 75-yard touchdown run by Nicholas Del Nodal to take a 7-0 lead, Ricobene marched his team down for the equalizer on a 23-yard pass play to Lazerick Eatman.
"It was great to bounce back," Ricobene said. "We didn't know if we were going to get down. We responded well and came back and drove it down their throats."
Ricobene, who finished 18-for-24 passing for 310 yards, also connected on touchdown passes to Jordan Rowell and Brendan Russ. His run in the third quarter was quite impressive too. On a simple draw play he used his quickness to blow through the RB defense like it was standing in quicksand.
"That was one of his best games," Krefft said of Ricobene. "He keeps on getting better and better. He is an impressive young man. He acts with character. He runs the team and is cool, calm and collected.
"He took it to the next level. Luke has a way for making things look easier. He is special."
Kicker Sam Buffo made a 39-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs' strategy of stacking the box to stop Rowell worked. They held him to 19 yards in the first half. He ended with 70 yards on 13 carries. But they could not match all the Knights weapons.
"We started off well," said RB coach Brendan Curtin. "But we were a little outsized in the trenches. They are a great football team -- hats off to them."