LISLE – With the high school football season kicking off Friday, teams across the state will be taking the field with one goal in mind — make it to the state finals Thanksgiving weekend. The players and coaches at Benet believe they have the pieces in place to surpass last year's deep playoff run and make it the final weekend of the season.
WHAT TO WATCH
NEW TARGET PRACTICE: Jack Euritt and Jack Toner were both East Suburban Catholic all-conference selections as senior wide receivers last year. Toner was ESCC league MVP, a Class 7A all-state selection. Their production and athleticism will be missed, but returning quarterback Jack Beneventi isn't losing any sleep.
"One great thing about our team is we always have receivers that are going to come up [from the lower levels] and step up," Beneventi said. "I was fortunate enough as a freshman to play with these guys on the sophomore team, so I feel like we already have our timing down."
HAND IN HAND: Advancing to the semifinals in football is never easy, but that's exactly what Benet did last season thanks to a high-powered aerial attack. Running back Porter Ontko has an idea of what could lift the Redwings even higher this season.
"We've got to get both our running game and passing games going early in the season," Ontko said. "Last year we went kind of back and forth with [how we used] them. This year I think we should establish both of them early on and make both of them weapons."
JUNIOR RANKS: The Redwings figure to start 11 seniors on the defensive side of the ball, have a trio of senior offensive linemen and two senior running backs, but head coach Pat New said it could be the junior class that holds the keys to Benet's success.
"I think it's avoiding injuries, and then I just think it's a matter of executing on offense and having some juniors step up, especially on our lines," New said. "We need some help on our O- and D-lines, so if we can have these younger guys play well on the lines, we should be in good shape."
AT A GLANCE
Coach: Pat New
2012 record: 11-2
Conference: East Suburban Catholic, 5-1, 1st place
Jack Beneventi jr. QB
Tom Burke sr. OL
Steve Hubona sr. OL
Nick McTarnaghan sr. RB
Jack Mitchell sr. OL
Porter Ontko sr. RB
Ryan Parks sr. CB
Nick Surges sr. LB/TE
Sean O'Connor jr. OL
Tyler Takahashi jr. C