The Marian Central Catholic High School boys football team qualified for the IHSA Class 5A state playoffs this past weekend with a 44-21 victory over the Saint Patrick High School Shamrocks.
Senior quarterback and running back Gavin Scott led the Hurricanes with two touchdowns and 160 yards rushing.
Marian head coach Mike Maloney was pleased with the high-scoring outcome and gave due respect to the Shamrocks.
“They [St. Pat’s] are big boys and they move the ball well,” said Maloney. “They strap it on a notch tighter and get after you.”
But from the outset Friday, Marian (5-4 overall; 3-4 East Suburban Catholic Conference) was prepared for that, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter with a 30-yard pass from senior AJ Golembiewksi to sophomore Patsy Ricciardi and a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Scott.
The Hurricane offensive and defensive effort continued in harmony in the second quarter with the defense forcing two interceptions caught by senior Cameron Interrante and Golembiewski. Before the half closed out, Golembiewski found Ricciardi for a 54-yard pass that set Scott up for a 4-yard rushing touchdown.
In the second half, the Shamrocks (2-7 overall; 2-5 ESCC) waged their strongest offensive effort yet, battling to within 10 points, but Marian capitalized on four scoring opportunities to put the game out of reach. Junior kicker Andrew Menner scored a 29-yard field goal with 11:12 left to play. Golembiewski connected with junior Bryce Radcliffe for a 9-yard touchdown reception and to top it off, junior Charlie Kramer ran in his second touchdown of the evening with a 40-yard interception return.
“As long as you do your job, that’s when the big plays come,” said Scott. “We knew it was going to be a grinder and we needed to execute.”
“I’m proud of Patsy. He had a great game and set me up for two touchdowns I had.”
“We knew we had to win and they [St. Pat’s] had nothing to lose,” added Ricciardi. “We all just did our jobs and plays came to each and every one of us. We didn’t try to make plays. We just let it come to us and played as a unit.”
Maloney lauded senior leadership in driving the team effort that made the win possible.
“We’re obviously a successful program, but wins around here don’t come easy, especially in our conference,” said Maloney. “The fortitude that they [the seniors] have shown over the last four years here to build a consistent winner in a conference like the East Suburban is part of their legacy and now we want to march into the playoffs and give them everything that they’ve worked for and approach each game with the same respect that it deserves.”
Maloney looks forward to having the team rested and healthy in preparation for the first round of the state finals this weekend.
“The best ability is availability,” said Maloney.
Marian is seeded at No. 14 and will play No. 3 Antioch (9-0).