Crusaders run roughshod over host Astros
The game was played one day later than scheduled.
Shepard coach Dominic Passolano might have wished it hadn’t gotten played at all.
When stormy weather on Friday night washed out football contests across the area and moved them into Saturday, coaches everywhere were left to deal with player disappointment at seeing the start of the 2013 season delayed. Brother Rice boss Brian Badke was no different, but he tried putting a positive spin on the situation.
“We didn’t get to play on Friday night, unfortunately,” he said. “I felt bad for the kids because we’re sitting and waiting. You wonder, ‘Are we going to be fired up [the next day]?’
“But hey, it’s Week 1. We’re playing football — that’s what you should be excited about.”
The Crusaders certainly were. The one-day wait did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm or, much to Shepard’s regret, their intensity.
Three first-quarter touchdowns signaled the beginning of Rice’s daytime dominance, and the Crusaders never wavered. By the time Saturday afternoon’s matchup in Palos Heights mercifully concluded, Rice owned an impressive 42-0 victory over the Astros.
“I think our kids expect to do well and they just came ready to play,” Badke said. “The kids played well with all the distractions and delay.”
And although Shepard didn’t cope with the same circumstances as effectively as its foe, Badke doesn’t believe Saturday’s showing was indicative of what the Astros will do for the entirety of the 2013 campaign.
“I think Dominic has done a great job with their program and Shepard will compete for their conference [title] again,” he said. “[But] losing those guys they had last year [was tough]. They were difference-makers.”
Badke was specifically referring to graduated quarterback Jimmy McClinton and all-area receiver Londell Lee, who spearheaded the Astros’ 2012 attack and piled up some formidable individual numbers. Without them in the lineup, Shepard is enduring a learning curve, and Rice gave it a lesson in hard knocks.
The Crusaders’ prevention corps held the Astros to less than 60 total yards, as 15 players were credited with at least one tackle. Robert Woods led the way with six total stops, but Andrew Dyke (five), Kevin Furlong (four tackles, three pass knockdowns), Michael McGinley (four stops, two hurries, one sack) and Dan Scanlon (three stops, two hurries, interception and punt block that resulted in a safety) also made their presences felt.
“We stressed as a coaching staff that we can’t take anybody lightly and can’t look ahead,” Badke said. “Our defense did a real good job of stopping the run and forcing them to turn the ball over a couple times early, and it was kind of a snowball effect [after that].”
Offensively, Chris Rozell, an all-area receiver as a junior, picked up right where he left off as he made his way into the Shepard end zone twice within the game’s first 12 minutes, doing so on receptions of 35 and 25 yards. Sandwiched between those touchdowns was Luke Mueller’s 1-yard scoring plunge.
And the onslaught continued in the second period, as Rice tacked on 19 more unanswered points. Rozell struck for a third time when he returned a free kick 60 yards following a safety, quarterback Alex Alarcon bootlegged 11 yards for a TD and Brian Kane kicked an 18-yard field goal.
“I’m proud of the way our kids played,” Badke said. “We kind of don’t look at the scoreboard; we just play. We were fortunate to get everybody in. I’d love for it to happen every week.”
That isn’t likely in Week 2, as the Crusaders tangle with neighborhood rival Marist, which is coming off a 28-26 loss to St. Rita. Meeting the RedHawks is big, of course, but Badke is a firm believer in the one-week-at-a-time theory, particularly in relation to Rice’s rugged 2013 slate.
“It’s a playoff week every week,” he said. “Outside of St. Joe’s, I think everybody on our schedule will make the playoffs. It’s a daunting task, but we’ve got to prepare.”
As for the Astros, Passolano’s primary aim is to keep his guys on an even keel as they get set to visit Marian Catholic on Friday.
“We got beat up pretty good [by the Crusaders],” Passolano said. “I had a feeling this could possibly happen with [several] kids starting their first varsity game, but we just have to be patient and positive. You don’t want it where they’re playing shell-shocked and scared.
“This is a different group [talent-wise]. We’re [also] not as deep as we have been, but we’ve got to keep coaching them along.”
Given the outcome, does Passolano regret having scheduled Rice as his club’s season-opener for the second year in a row?
“It’s a gamble I took,” he said. “I want to see if it works and it pays off for us. Last year, it was the same situation [starting out 0-1], but what those kids did was rebound on Monday [in practice].
“In Year 1, we needed to get wins to build confidence. We still need wins, but there comes a point where you have to test yourself. If it doesn’t work, I can always back off a little bit [the next season].”
Playing well defensively for Shepard in a losing cause were Kyle Dye (three solo stops, five assists, one tackle for loss), Shane Javorski (six solos, one assist, fumble recovery) and Romel Robinson (five solos, two assists, one tackle for loss).
Brother Rice 21 19 2 0 - 42
Shepard 0 0 0 0 - 0
Yds. rushing 92 12
Yds. passing 256 43
Total yds. 348 55
Att./comp. 23-17 19-7
Fumbles lost 1 1
Had intercepted 0 0
BR — Chris Rozell, 35-yd. pass from Alex Alarcon (Brian Kane kick)
BR — Luke Mueller, 1-yd. run (Kane kick)
BR — Rozell, 25-yd. pass from Alarcon (Kane kick)
BR — Kane, 18-yd. field goal
BR — Alarcon, 11-yd. run (Kane kick)
BR — Safety (bad punt snap)
BR — Rozell, 60-yd. kickoff return (Kane kick)
BR — Safety (Dan Scanlon punt block)
Brother Rice Rushing: Smith 10-50, Alarcon 5-17, Jones 3-15, Perez 4-5, Mueller 2-5. Passing: Alarcon 23-17-256. Receiving: Perez 6-37, Rozell 4-112, Mueller 4-35, Desmond 3-72.
Shepard Rushing: Dye 8-11, Javorski 2-6, Albrecht 1-5, Lansdown 1-1, Koziol 1-(-2), Jones 2-(-4), Huddleston 2-(-5). Passing: Javorski 16-5-26, Albrecht 3-2-17. Receiving: Bailey 2-14, Berryhill 1-11, Lansdown 1-9, Williams 1-6, Dye 1-4, Jones 1-(-1).