Scouting the Benet Redwings
Benet's football team graduated its leading rusher, a three-year starting quarterback and some of its top receivers.
Redwings coach Pat New has at least three reasons -- and probably more -- why this year's offense still could be just as good.
With Ben Cooney, Jack Eschenbach and Nick Keyes back in the fold, Benet aims to be as potent as last year's group that rolled to the Class 7A semifinals.
"Having those three weapons really gives us confidence," New said. "I think our offense is in pretty good shape."
Top priority on offense is replacing graduated standouts Marty Dosen and Jack Sznajder. Running back Ben Hickey comes up from the sophomore team while Matt Boyle takes the reins behind center after playing quarterback in East Suburban Catholic games against Marist last year and Nazareth as a sophomore.
Keyes and Eschenbach combined for nearly 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards last season. Cooney, who snared 8 interceptions, is the perfect addition to the passing game, which will be led up front by returning linemen Shane O'Mara and Dan Phillipp.
"Matt's a senior and he's gotten a taste of it back there," New said.
The defense draws strength from its linebackers headed by Devin Petersen, who led last year's team with 152 tackles. Connor Burke, a transfer from California, and Mike Wymer are juniors ready to step up behind a young defensive line.
Ben and Jack Cooney, Keyes and Connor Reid bolster a secondary brimming with ballhawks.
Given the high-powered offenses in the ESCC, Benet needs that presence as it pushes for a sixth straight playoff berth.
One to watch: Is Joliet Catholic back after last year's surprising dip? Benet finds out in a Week 7 road trip.
Coach: Pat New (eighth year, 47-29).
2016 record: 10-3, 6-1, second in the East Suburban Catholic.
Top players: Ben Cooney (DB-WR, 5-10, 160, sr.), Devin Petersen (LB, 6-0, 220, sr.), Nick Keyes (WR-DB, 5-9, 160, sr.), Jack Eschenbach (WR, 6-6, 200, sr.), Matt Boyle (QB, 6-3, 195, sr.), Ben Hickey (RB, 5-11, 170, jr.), Connor Burke (LB, 6-1, 210, jr.), Shane O'Mara (OL, 6-5, 230, jr.), Dan Phillipp (6-0, 220, sr.), Mike Wymer (LB, 5-11, 180, jr.), Jack Cooney (DB, 5-11, 160, jr.), Connor Reid (DB, 6-1, 205, sr.).
-- Kevin Schmit
Fri, 8/25, Benet at St. Laurence, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/1, Notre Dame at Benet, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/8, Marian Central Catholic at Benet, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/15, Benet at St. Viator, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 9/22, Benet at Nazareth Academy, 7 p.m.
Fri, 9/29, Marian Catholic at Benet, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/6, Benet at Joliet Catholic Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/13, Marist at Benet, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, 10/20, Benet at Carmel, 7:30 p.m.