ICCP defense continues to dominate
With the IC Catholic Prep offense putting up crazy numbers, it is easy to overlook the other side of the football.
But in the Class 4A playoff opener on Friday night in Elmhurst, the Knights' defense did what it has quietly done all fall -- completely dominate the opposition.
Holding a Raby offense that included a pair of Division I recruits to 50 yards in the opening half, ICCP jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in a 49-8 victory.
The home team, which has yielded just 74 points through 10 games, forced the Raiders into four punts, a turnover on downs and a fumble over the first two quarters.
"Everybody does their job," said senior linebacker Kevin Cooke, who recovered the fumble. "It starts with our line up front with guys like Ricky (Mysliwiec) and Michael (Johnson) and they allow our linebackers to run free. And then our DBs do a great job defending the pass. It's all of it together."
The offense got churning midway through the opening quarter, kicking off the scoring with a 21-yard strike from Khalil Saunders to Khali Saunders. The twin brothers also connected on a 55-yard TD pass on the first play from scrimmage after halftime.
"Really our thinking is to just take what they give us," Khali Saunders said. "Kyle (Franklin) can break long runs and Khalil has been throwing the ball well. We try to stay balanced."
Franklin did indeed add a few highlight runs, scoring a trio of touchdowns, the longest of which came from 48 yards out. The sophomore finished with 126 yards on 13 carries, all in the first half.
"I was a little nervous before the game," Franklin said. "But it was a beautiful start for us. I'm glad I was able to rely on my line, they opened up a lot of holes for me. I ran right behind my lineman."
The Knights brought on the running clock with a 12-yard scamper by backup quarterback Tommy Ryan in the third. Rashad Sbeih also found the end zone on a 13-yard run.
ICCP (10-0) advances to play the winner of Saturday's Dixon-Stillman Valley matchup.
"This is a different group of kids," said ICCP coach Bill Krefft, whose team extended its overall winning streak to 22 games. "They are loose, they were dancing in the locker room before the game. They are very close, the brotherhood thing is real. They are a family and that shows."