Benet's doubly effective at Maine West
Benet Academy's quick-strike offense was just as good as the Redwings' dominant defense.
Put the two together and Benet, a No. 17 seed, knocked out No. 16 Maine West seed 35-13 in a first-round Class 7A playoff matchup in Des Plaines on Friday night.
"Our front four on defense just controlled the line of scrimmage," said Benet coach Pat New. "We were able to put a lot of pressure on them."
Benet's defense was credited with 8 sacks on Warrior quarterback George Markakis for minus-42 yards.
The Warriors (7-3) managed just 35 rushing yards and 108 passing.
"We just could never get much going against them," said Maine West coach Jason Kradman. "Even with the 3 interceptions, we always started deep in our own territory. It just seemed were were a step slow on offense."
Benet senior defensive left tackle Matthew Kipp had 2 of the sacks and praised the defensive effort of his team.
"We just played straight-up defense," said Kipp. "We didn't want to let them get anything going. We knew they could score because they average 30 points a game. With us (Jacob Snell, John Benish, and Griffin Sturtz) controlling the line, it made is easier for our linebackers and defensive backs to make plays. They've been great all season."
Benet's offense was solid, too, with the improving play of sophomore Colin Gillespie.
Gillespie scored 2 touchdowns and passed for another in the first half as the Redwings led at 21-7 at halftime.
A 50-yard run on Benet's first offensive possession by Bennett Hickey (13 carries, 80 yards) set up Gillespie's 4-yard run with 8:02 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Gillespie threw a short pass to Ben Cooney, who finished off a 50-yard pass play with 10:22 left in the first half and a 14-0 lead.
Following a interception by linebacker Connor Burke, it took two plays before Gillespie scampered 44 yards for a touchdown, giving Benet a 21-0 lead with 6:58 left in the half.
Maine West scored with 3:14 left in the half on Matt Kentgen's 8-yard reception from Markakis, making it 21-7.
Left-side linebacker Michael Wymer, on his first carry of the season, weaved his way up the middle of the Warriors defense to score on a 65-yard burst on the first play of the second half for Benet. Wymer finished with 120 yards on 5 carries. That score gave the Redwings a 28-7 lead.
"Michael was a running back his freshman and sophomore years," said New of the junior. "We thought we would give him a try. With the cooler weather like this you need to have your best football players on the field."
Gillespie finished the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jack Eschenbach, who had the ball tipped to him as an interception attempt by Maine West's Jake Bellizzi just missed.
"I know I made some mistakes tonight throwing the ball tonight," said Gillespie. "But I think I'm getting a little better each game. My offensive line did a great job giving me protection. I was hardly touched. They did a great job opening holes, which is why we had some really big runs."
He's learning," said New. "It's only his fifth game at quarterback. We'll look to see what happened on the films and make some plays a little more simpler for him."
Gillespie finished with 11-for-22 with 136 yards passing, and Benet finished with 459 yards of offense.
Maine West, which had its most successful season in years, scored with :09 left on Sam Corey's 1-yard run.
"I'm proud of this group of seniors," said Kradman. "We had a tremendous season. Their work got us here."