RIVERSIDE – After winning five games last season and failing to make the playoffs, seniors like Robbie Brindley made sure the Roadrunners would make the playoffs this season.
Naz’s defense put in another impressive performance in a 41-0 win at Riverside Brookfield on Friday. It gave the Roadrunners their all-important sixth win of the season to clinch a playoff birth.
“A bunch of kids worked in the offseason and wanted that goal,” said Brindley, a defensive back for the Roadrunners. “I’m just happy right now that we finally accomplished it.”
The defensive unit earned its second shutout of the season to follow up on strong showings against prolific offenses from Benet and Notre Dame. Other than a pair of outliers when Marist and Joliet Catholic scored 42 points each on Naz, the Roadrunners haven’t allowed 20 points in a game.
“We play aggressive,” Brindley said. “We always play together. It’s not one kid on the defense who is a complete five-star recruit, but we always play together as a team and just fly to the ball.”
Naz has won four straight since losing to Joliet Catholic 42-0 in Week 4. Brindley described the lopsided loss as a fluke, but the Hilltoppers have emerged as the leader in the East Suburban Catholic Conference thanks to Naz knocking Notre Dame and Benet from the top of the conference standings.
The dominant win over RB came despite four first half turnovers. Naz still went into halftime up 21-0 and put the game away with a pair of scores early in the third quarter.
With a playoff spot secured, the Roadrunners can improve their playoff seed in Class 5A. To earn a home game in the first round they would need to beat 2-5 Marian Catholic in the season finale Saturday and get some help from 7-1 and 6-2 teams projected to be ahead of them in the seeds.
If the IHSA groups the 5A playoffs into geographical quarters like last year, the Roadrunners could see undefeated teams like Montini, Sycamore, Rich Central and Glenbard South early in the playoffs.
Joliet Catholic, Bremen and Kaneland are also 7-1 teams with talented squads. After playing in the ESCC, Naz won’t be afraid of anyone.
“We want to go for state right now because we have the potential to do it,” Brindley said. “Our next goal is to win state.”
Nazareth 41, Riverside Brookfield 0
Naz scoring plays: Doug DiFusco 76-yard punt return Michael Masterson 4-yard run Jonah Beauduy 6-yard run Beauduy 31-yard run Carson Bartels 21-yard run Justin Weller 21-yard run
Week 9: Nazareth vs. Marian Catholic
When: 1 p.m. SaturdayWhere: Valenta Stadium, 1209 W. Ogden Ave., La Grange ParkRecords: Nazareth 6-2 (3-2 ESCC), Marian Catholic 2-6 (0-5 ESCC)