Marist states case by routing previously unbeaten Nazareth

  • Written by Phil Arvia


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Photo by Jeff Vorva

From left, Aiden Hackett, Gavin McCabe and Delonte Harrell celebrate Harrell’s first quarter touchdown in Marist's 42-0 win over previously unbeaten Nazareth.



For weeks, Marist’s football players had heard the refrain:

“You haven’t played anybody,” junior defensive back Charlie Laurencell recited.

The RedHawks, outwardly, shrugged. But the argument had at least some merit. Only one of their first six foes had a winning record and the last four — victims by a combined 206-47 — had but four wins between them through six weeks.

“No disrespect to our opponents,” quarterback Mike Markett said. “We beat everybody they put in front of us.”

Friday, the schedule put a Somebody, fellow unbeaten and East Suburban Catholic co-leader Nazareth, in front of the Redhawks and Marist ran over the Roadrunners 42-0 in Chicago.

“To go up against a 6-0 team and beat them by 42, that’s one of the best feelings ever,” said Laurencell, who capped the RedHawks’ 28-point first half by diving into the end zone with a 27-yard interception return. “But we know we’ve got more work to do.”

Nazareth coach Tim Racki, for one, is convinced the RedHawks will be working deep into the postseason.

“They’re going to make a long run in the playoffs,” Racki, who coached Nazareth to the 6A state title in 2014, said. “I give all the credit to Marist. It got away from us because that’s a great 8A playoff team over there — they just keep coming at you with their speed and strength.”

Nazareth, with wins over De La Salle, Carmel of Mundelein and Benet Academy, sported a worthy resume and a stingy defense that had allowed an average of 9.6 points per game after starting the season with a forfeit win over Dunbar. But the Roadrunners were no match for the multi-pronged Marist attack.

After driving 72 yards to Marist's eight with their first possession -- and having nothing to show for it but a missed 25-yard field goal attempt -- the Roadrunners fumbled away their only other trip to the Marist red zone.

“They’ve got a powerful line, tremendous skill,” Racki said. “You stop something, they come at you with something else.”

“We like to take what they give us, move fast and step on their throats,” Market said.

Against Nazareth, the first step belonged to Delonte Harrell (20 carries, 102 yards, 3 touchdowns). Harrell scored the RedHawks’ first two touchdowns, a seven-yarder to cap a game-opening drive in which he carried seven times in 12 snaps, and a one-yarder to finish an eight-play drive in which he had five runs.

Markett (10 carries, 105 yards) didn’t find the end zone himself, but while going 9-of-14 for 156 yards he did manage touchdown passes to T.J. Ivy and Jadon Thompson.

Ivy, a West Virginia-bound tight end, bashed his way in from 13 yards out to make it 21-0 with 3:10 to play in the second quarter.

“We can be as good as we want to be,” Ivy, a 6-foot-5, 229-pound senior, said. “We have a lot of weapons. We create mismatches.

“Nobody is going to be able to stop us as long as we play like we can.”

Thompson, a sophomore, got his first touch of the night in the third quarter, when Markett hit him in stride on a deep route over the middle, and turned it into a 61-yard touchdown — his seventh score of the season.

The final Marist touchdown came on a one-yard Harrell run with 5:28 left in the third quarter. A running clock ended Nazareth’s misery quickly thereafter.

For the game, Marist outgunned Nazareth 416-253. The Roadrunners were forced to the air early, quarterback Bobby Grimes finishing 10-of-26 for 158 yards.

“Our guys, they’d heard all that stuff about not being challenged yet,” first year Marist coach Ron Dawczak said. “They were looking forward to this game all week. That was huge.” 

The RedHawks have another tough opponent as they visit Benet (5-2, 4-1) Friday. The RedHawks have not won in Lisle since a 17-14 triumph in 2011.