Loaded offense returns for Benet in 2013
BY BLAKE BAUMGARTNER For Sun-Times Media November 21, 2012 5:02PM
Quarterback Jack Beneventi (13) returns in 2013 to lead the Benet offense after throwing for more than 2,300 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 22, 2012 9:54PM
Appreciative of the ride his players had taken him and the rest of his coaching staff on throughout 13 games, Benet coach Pat New took time last Saturday to impart one last message after his Redwings saw their season end.
“I think they learned a lot and what I told them after the game was ‘you play football because you love to play but also hopefully you learn something from the experience,’” he said. “I just hope they learned from this season because I think they certainly put in their time and dedication and received a great return from that hard work and dedication.”
The Redwings’ 37-13 loss to top-seeded Lincoln-Way East in a Class 7A state semifinal last Saturday snapped their nine-game winning streak, but the strides they made throughout the 2012 season are undeniable.
Tying a program record by winning 11 games for the first time since 1986, Benet made the turnaround from 1-8 to 11-2. Also accomplished were a share of the program’s first East Suburban Catholic Conference crown and the program’s first state semifinal trip since 1984.
This all happened behind a great defense and an explosive offense that continued to find its way as the season progressed.
Allowing six opponents to score 10 points or less, including posting four shutouts, the Redwings’ defense continually set the tone behind the ESCC’s MVP in 2012, senior cornerback Jack Toner, and senior linebacker Jack Crain, the ESCC’s co-Defensive MVP.
Whereas New believed the defense was going to be a strong suit in 2012, the offense will occupy that role moving toward 2013 as Benet hopes for an encore next fall.
Eight starters will be back on an offensive unit that averaged 32.3 points, led by sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi, junior running backs Porter Ontko and Nick McTarnaghan and junior tight end Nick Surges.
“As we were warming up for Lincoln-Way East, I was standing next to a couple coaches and I saw our offense running plays,” New said.
“And I just made the observation: ‘Do you guys realize eight of the 11 guys right now are underclassmen?’ So it’s pretty exciting stuff. One sophomore and seven juniors were on the field, so I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going forward.”
The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Beneventi impressed throughout his inaugural varsity season by throwing for more than 2,300 yards to go along with 20 touchdowns — eight of which went to senior wide receiver Jack Euritt, who set a program single-season record with his 55 receptions for 850 yards and 10 touchdowns.
For a second straight year, Ontko was a two-way standout for the Redwings by running for more than 850 yards and 15 touchdowns while also proving to be a resource for Beneventi as a receiver and producing quality defensive play as a safety.
While much pressure will be on the offense to carry the early load next season because of the wealth of experience returning, five starters will be back on defense.
But as much as the Redwings wanted to prove that their 1-8 finish in 2011 was a fluke, the desire to prove that their 11-2 finish this year wasn’t a fluke should be strong heading into 2013.
Their coach, entering his fourth year next season, certainly feels that way.
“I know our guys will be hungry and I told them to get away from football for a while and go recuperate and enjoy your time off and then we’ll hit it hard,” New said.
“I mean, I know, personally, I’m really fired up for 2013. I’m working on plans right now and I don’t plan on taking much time off just because I love what I do.”