IC Catholic cruises past Wheaton Academy

By Bill Stone
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/8/2018 12:12 AM

Whoever the IC Catholic Prep receiver, quarterback Khalil Saunders found him Friday.

Saunders completed his first 13 passes as part of another strong offensive display by the Knights in their 48-13 victory over a determined Wheaton Academy in the Metro Suburban Blue football opener in West Chicago.

"The coaches give us the play. I have to make my reads, trust my O-line and my wide receivers on the outside," said Saunders, who passed for 263 yards and 1 TD. "They executed well so I had to keep throwing them the ball."

On the Knights' first two offensive plays, Saunders quickly passed down the left sideline to Sean Hipskind, first for 11 yards and then a 69-yard TD just 26 seconds into the game for the Knights (3-0).

By halftime Saunders found six receivers, including himself on a ball deflected at the line of scrimmage. Kyle Franklin added 132 rushing yards and three more TDs.

Saunders, a part-time quarterback in 2017 before an injury, also rushed for a 7-yard TD in the third quarter.

"I think that he brings an aspect of the run game that is just a little bit more effective than (graduated C.J. West)," ICCP coach Bill Krefft said. "Throwing the ball, he's been throwing the heck out of it and doing a great job."

Krefft was frustrated about the Knights' 175 penalty yards, including six unsportsmanlike penalties. The first with 4:41 left in the first quarter resulted in one game ejection.

"Aside from the refs taking us away from things that what we wanted to do and throwing flags for things that weren't there and deciding to dictate the game, our kids did exactly what they were supposed to do. They were busting their butt the whole game. They were finishing blocks," Krefft said.

Khalil Saunders didn't mind talking about his long list of receiving options.

"I have great receivers on the outside. I can feed any of them the ball and they're going to come down with it," Khalil Saunders said. "I feel much more confident especially having a half of a year under my belt at quarterback."

The Warriors (2-1) also had offensive success with quarterback Ben Thorson, who passed for 179 yards and 2 TDs.

He had 10 completions in a row to finish the first half after being part of a rough start for the Warriors.

Five times players needed to be tended to on the field in the first quarter and nine times for the game. Roughly half of the players couldn't return.

"I'm proud of our guys for fighting," Wheaton Academy coach Brad Thornton said.

"We knew we were going up against a great football team. I think this is the best IC team we've seen in the past few years. The message all week has been to take it one play at a time and to fight. I thought we did that -- especially with the number of guys that we had go down and out. Our guys on the sidelines didn't get discouraged by that."

Noah Jones caught an electrifying 45-yard slant in stride to cut the deficit to 21-13 in the third quarter. Steven Ryan scored late in the first quarter on a 13-yard catch right after a diving 45-yard reception.

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