IHSA Playoffs Round 2: Oswego vs. Benet Academy
LISLE – When the playoff pairings were announced, Oswego’s football team felt good to be 8-1, a conference champion and to know it would have a home playoff game.
Oswego was less thrilled to see their first-round opponent would be fellow Southwest Prairie Conference foe Plainfield North, a team the Panthers beat easily just three weeks earlier. Oswego needed a defensive stand at its own five-yard line in the waning seconds to knock out Plainfield North and earn a sixth consecutive first-round playoff win for the Panthers.
“We came out flat on Friday,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “That’s not like us. I don’t think our guys wanted to play Plainfield North again. I think they wanted an opponent that was somebody else. As hard as we fought it, we couldn’t get our kids out of it.”
The Panthers get their wish Friday night in the Class 7A second round against Benet Academy at Benedictine University in Lisle, a game that will be broadcast by CN100. The game will be shown at Noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, and at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5. You can also find the game throughout Chicagoland with Xfinity On Demand.
Oswego relies on the punishing run game of Mickeel Stewart and the steady hand of senior quarterback Brett Wainwright, a converted receiver. Jack Kwiatkowski emerged as one of the best playmakers in the passing game in the conference this season, and ball hawking defensive backs Elliot McGaughy and Jamaal Richardson pace the defense.
“We have a tough offense to simulate because of its complexity,” said Cooney, who is in his first season as Panthers coach. “We’re going to go out and do what we do. We’re not going to fully reinvent the wheel, but we have new wrinkles that we haven’t shown before. We’re feeling good.”
The Panthers are getting set to face a Benet team that had arguably the greatest turnaround in the state this past season. The Redwings were a dismal 1-8 last year, but turned it around with an 8-1 regular season and the program’s first-ever East Suburban Catholic championship. Coach Pat New said that was the goal the day after last season ended, but even they were surprised as how quickly they were able to turn it around.
“It was a funny moment after we beat (Joliet Catholic Week 9 to clinch the conference),” New said. “The guys were shaking their heads going, 'I can’t believe we actually did it.' It was one of those kinds of moments. It was unbelievable that we did it.”
Sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi’s emergence as the season progressed has sparked the Redwings. Cooney said that if you didn’t have a roster in front of you, you’d never know when scouting Benet that Beneventi is a sophomore. He has thrown for over 300 yards three times this season.
“He does all the little things, he can move defenders with his eyes,” New said. “He does all the things a veteran quarterback does. I’ve been so pleased with his play, especially at the end of the season.”
Running backs Nick McTarnaghan and Porter Ontko carry the load in the backfield, while Jack Euritt and Nick Surges are Beneventi’s main targets in the pass game.
“I’m so happy for our players, those guys deserve this,” New said. “We’ll be ready to go.”
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- Paul Johnson, CN100 Correspondent
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