Benet rolls to clinch seventh straight playoff berth
It's about 40 miles between Lisle and Chicago Heights, straight down Interstate 294.
That was a long way for the Benet football team to go Friday to clinch an IHSA playoff berth, its seventh straight. But it was worth it, and it wasn't really any trouble at all.
The Redwings barely broke a sweat in dispatching Marian Catholic 58-0 to improve to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Benet got a pair of touchdown runs from senior running back Bennett Hickey, who was also the recipient of a 50-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Colin Gillespie.
Add 122 yards rushing on 13 carries by another senior running back, Michael Wymer, along with a touchdown, and it was a long, long night for the Spartans.
"It's awesome," Hickey said of the playoff berth. "I mean, there is so much legacy to this program that's been built the last few years, and we're just getting better each week. We had two losses, but our O-line is getting better and a our defense is getting better, and we're making great improvements for the playoffs."
"We're not looked at like a football school, I think, by a lot of schools," Wymer added, "but we try to put some respect on our name and on our school and making it seven years in a row, I think we've done that."
It's a good thing the Redwings clinched Friday. Next week they have a tough Marist team, albeit at home. The RedHawks have run roughshod through the ESCC, but Benet coach Pat New thinks his team is looking forward to that contest.
"We're ready for them," New said. "We'll prepare hard and we've played them tough at home in the past. But they are a great football team, they're one of the best teams in the state, that's for sure."
As for Friday night, the game was over early thanks to a high-tempo offense that staked the Redwings to a 21-0 lead after one quarter and 38-0 at the half. In only one half of play, Gillespie completed 7 of 12 passes for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. That included a 30-yarder to senior receiver Luke Flaska with 10:25 left in the first quarter that kicked the scoring off.
Marian Catholic could get nothing going offensively thanks to Benet's front line anchored by senior Jackson Stephens, junior Jacob Snell, senior Daniel O'Meara and junior Shane Rogers. The only rusher to have any amount of success was junior Carlos Jones with 68 yards rushing on 12 carries.
But consider: The Spartans only had 80 total yards in falling to 1-7 overall and 0-6 in the ESCC. They also earned only 2 first downs, compared to 17 for Benet, which also had just 1 penalty, for a loss of 5 yards.