Even with a season-ending injury to standout quarterback Luke Ricobene, coach Bill Krefft explained to his IC Catholic Prep football team that expectations weren't about to change.
And after Friday night's performance, why would they?
With Khalil Saunders taking over at QB, the Knights' offense was as dominant as ever, scoring six first-half touchdowns on their way to a 54-0 victory over Elmwood Park in a Metro Suburban Conference crossover in Elmhurst.
Saunders, making his first varsity start at QB, threw a touchdown pass to C.J. West and also ran one in from 8 yards out. The junior completed 6 of 11 passes for 83 yards and rushed for 39 yards on 3 attempts in less than a half of action.
"My coaches got me well prepared throughout the week," Saunders said. "I wasn't that nervous coming in; now last week being thrown in there was kind of a shock. But I definitely felt more prepared this time.
"Overall it was a great way to bounce back from a tough game and it was a great team win. We got a great effort from everyone. When the twos were in, you didn't see a dropoff in the game."
Making the victory even more impressive was the fact that 12 sophomores got their first taste of varsity action due to an array of injuries. One mainstay who was on the field was senior running back Lazerick Eatman, who carved up the Tigers defense to the tune of 179 yards and three scores on 10 carries. The first two times he touched the football, Eatman uncorked TD runs of 30 and 43 yards.
"Luke went down and he is the leader of our program," Eatman said of Ricobene, who was in his fourth season of being the starting quarterback. "But it has to be next man up and we expect the same thing from him that we expected from Luke. A lot of people might have doubted us (after the injury) but we came out and showed that we are still a great team."
West also threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Khali Saunders right before halftime that brought on the running clock. In the second half Dan Gibbons scored on a 23-yard run and freshman Kyle Franklin added a 1-yard TD for IC (2-1).
Defensively, the home team forced four turnovers, including interceptions by Sean Hipskind and Kemon Reese.
"I'm proud of the kids," Krefft said. "It was a program type of game. Everyone in that game did what they were supposed to do. It's a credit to the kids because we had a lot of depth issues and we were down some starters."