IC Catholic Prep rolls into 3A semifinals
To put a capstone on its defensive dominance Saturday, IC Catholic Prep had one more play to make.
Princeton faced 4th-and-long with 10:06 remaining during IC's ultimate 31-7 victory over Princeton in the Class 3A quarterfinal. Shortly after the ball was hiked, the Knights' secondary split into quarter zones. Knights senior defensive back George O'Brien was apparently ready for whatever came his way.
"[Princeton] ran an under route. I just stood in my quarter and waited for any routes to come my way," O'Brien said. "Joe Marzano, defensive end, came [up] big making [Princeton quarterback Teegan Davis] throw off his back foot and made it a really easy interception for me to get."
Princeton, who averaged 43.4 points per game entering Saturday, was limited to just one touchdown on an 8-yard run by Augie Christiansen that came with 3:27 left in the game. The Tigers (10-2) managed just 78 second half yards before their 10-play scoring drive. Davis had two second half interceptions.
The Knights (11-1) will now face Byron in the semifinals next week. It is a rematch of the 2017 semifinal -- a 7-0 IC Catholic win en route to the program's second of three straight state titles from 2016-2018.
"We're physical. We're nasty. We're tough," O'Brien said of his defense. "We just play with that edge."
And, clearly, ready for what Princeton had in store.
"The defensive staff, Roger Kelley, the defensive coordinator, had a great game plan going in," ICCP coach Bill Krefft said. "Really spent a lot of time getting them for that explosive offense. We knew that their offense was one of the most explosive in the state. When you talk about what they are: That's  points in the first two games. On the starters, they didn't score at all."
Davis was limited to 15-of-22 for 130 passing yards. Marcheon Griffin had eight catches for 75 yards.
"So, you look at everything they've done through their season -- how explosive they've been on offense -- we knew that was a priority," Krefft said. "That's a really good football team. All the credit to their kids and how they came out. There were a couple things they did really well. Our kids just tackled, and did a nice job of playing good defense."
The Knights were just as potent offensively.
ICCP took a 7-0 lead on its first offensive possession after sophomore quarterback Dennis Mandala connected with Connor McCoy for a 48-yard score. The Knights later added a 27-yard field goal and then hit on a 10-yard score from Mandala to McCoy to make it 17-0 at the half.
Out of the break, Knights senior running back Deontae Oatman took in a 2-yard score to make it 24-0 that was set up by a 39-yard strike to McCoy. Nakiyan Weathers finished up the Knights' day with a 13-yard touchdown for the final Knights score.
Mandala finished 15-of-21 for 198 yards. McCoy had three catches for 70 yards and 12 tackles defensively.
"Our kids, again, executing the details," Krefft said. "Taking what was given. Those were a couple of the shots that we knew we were going to throw."
There's only two more weeks until the season's conclusion. For the Knights, hopefully, that ends in DeKalb.
"That's all we're [potentially] guaranteed," Knights senior wideout Brendan Bigane said.