LA GRANGE PARK – Not many teams in the state have picked up better wins in the past two weeks than Nazareth.
For the second week in a row the Roadrunners beat an undefeated team. First, Naz beat Notre Dame 10-7 Oct. 5. On Saturday, it was Benet that fell victim to the revitalized Roadrunners, 28-18.
It’s a sharp turn around for a team that lost to Joliet Catholic 42-0 at home in Week 4. The next game, the Roadrunners won at Carmel for the first time in school history. They have simply kept rolling since.
“Our confidence has been building as the season has gone on,” said Nazareth coach Tim Racki. “The defining moment for me was the week after JCA. How they responded the week after that butt-whipping told me that this was a special kind of group. They worked hard and weren’t feeling sorry for themselves.”
For the third week in a row it was a stout defensive performance and a strong running game that led Naz to victory. After giving up 42 points in back-to-back defeats to Marist and Joliet Catholic, the Roadrunners have held their last three opponents under 20 points.
Any three game winning streak in the East Suburban Catholic Conference is impressive, but it also came against quality opposition.
“Sustaining that type of intensity in this conference for three weeks straight is an accomplishment,” Racki said.
The defensive group doesn’t have a lot of size, but possesses plenty of speed. Racki says the defense’s attitude has improved.
“The one thing that was lacking in the beginning of the year was the attitude,” Racki said. “I don’t have that Ray Lewis-type leader on defense. It’s actually a quiet group.”
The Roadrunner D has shown more fire and is having more fun on the field, according to Racki.
“They’ve been excited about the challenge, especially the last couple weeks with high-powered offenses coming in,” Racki said.
Benet came in averaging 34.5 points per game and the Roadrunners held them to season-low 18. Similarly, Notre Dame came to La Grange Park averaging 35 points per game.
Racki described the team as a selfless group with a special something that he couldn’t put his finger on. No matter how they’re doing it, the Roadrunners are one win away from clinching a playoff birth and face 1-6 Riverside Brookfield on Friday.
“Our goal is to get to the playoffs and we’re not there yet,” Racki said.
Nazareth 28, Benet 18
Naz leaders • Jack Dolan: Interception • Decxavier Kelly-Martin: Interception • Justin Love: 2 TDs • Ivory Kelly-Martin: Rushing TD
Week 8: Nazareth at Riverside Brookfield
When: 7:15 p.m. FridayWhere: 160 Ridgewood Rd., RiversideRecords: Riverside Brookfield 1-6, Nazareth 5-2Outlook: Fresh off its first win of the season RB will have a tough task in this non-conference showdown against a red-hot Nazareth team hoping to clinch a playoff spot. The Roadrunners have picked up wins over undefeated teams (Notre Dame and Benet) in each of the past two weeks. Naz has won this game by an average of 39 points the past two years.