Joliet Catholic throttles Marmion
Highly regarded Joliet Catholic sophomore tailback Jordan Anderson did not play at Marmion Friday due to an injury.
It hardly mattered.
Junior Ja'Aire Mack rushed for 3 first-quarter touchdowns and the Joliet Catholic defense sacked Marmion quarterback Padraig Fitzgerald five times in the first half as the Hilltoppers rolled to a 49-7 victory at Fichtel Field in Aurora.
The defending Class 5A state champs outgained the playoff-bound Cadets 283 total yards to -5 in the first two quarters to take a 35-0 halftime lead.
"Just an old-fashioned butt whooping," Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. "When you can't run the ball and you can't throw the ball, it's hard to score points. Hats off to them. They beat us in every phase of the game: coaching, offense, defense, everything."
The win clinched a playoff berth for Joliet Catholic (6-3, 3-0) as well as the CCL/ESCC White Division title.
"We kind of figured we'd be in with five wins but we talked all week about no steps back," Joliet Catholic coach Jake Jaworski said. "Week 9, our final performance before the playoffs, we wanted to make a statement."
The Hilltoppers made that statement immediately.
After receiving the opening kickoff the offense drove 72 yards in 9 plays, capped by Mack's 12-yard run. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound running back followed the lead blocking of stout senior fullback Julian Perez and a pulling guard for big yardage, a common theme.
Mack rushed for 88 yards and 3 touchdowns on 10 carries. The Hilltoppers gained 366 of their 457 total yards via the ground game.
"It was really big because Jordan was hurt," Joliet Catholic sophomore quarterback Aidan Voss said of Mack's performance. "Sophomore year from him, he was really good. He got a chance to show what he could do again in this game. It was really cool."
Marmion (6-3, 1-2) was completely handcuffed offensively. The Cadets were limited to 23 total yards and punted seven times. Fitzgerald completed 5 of 10 passing attempts but was under constant pressure from blitzers.
"It was just the second-level blitzes that ate us up," Fitzgerald said. "They'd bring guys off the edge. We saw it on film and we tried to prepare for it as much as you can, but that's a very good Joliet Catholic team. They've been through a schedule that not a lot of teams in the state can say they've been through."
Jaworski pulled his starters at halftime. After a scoreless third quarter the Hilltoppers added two fourth-quarter touchdowns and finished the game's last 11 minutes under a running clock.
The only score for Marmion came via sophomore Jackson Burroughs' 85-yard kickoff return by with 3:06 remaining.
The Cadets will gather Saturday night to watch the IHSA pairings show and learn their first-round opponent. Friday's result won't be far from their minds.
"At practice next week everyone is going to be 100 percent every single day because no one likes coming off a loss like this, especially being embarrassed on our own home field," Fitzgerald said. "That's something everyone is going to take into the playoffs, put in their heart and keep a chip on their shoulder."