ICCP takes direct route to semifinals

IC Catholic Prep's scheme is pretty direct.

"We're an explosive offense. Teams know that, so we score quick on offense. That's basically what our game plan is," said Knights quarterback Luke Ricobene.

Quick? Ricobene smacked Wilmington with a 64-yard read-option touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. Three minutes later running back Jordan Rowell went 70 yards to score on IC's third play, achieving liftoff toward a 48-14 Class 3A quarterfinal victory over the previously unbeaten Wildcats Saturday at Lewis Stadium in Elmhurst.

No. 1 seed IC Catholic (12-0) advanced to a second straight Class 3A semifinal, next weekend at another unbeaten, No. 6 Monticello, a 48-17 winner over No. 2 Farmington. No. 4 Wilmington finished 11-1.

"Our offense, we keep rolling - steamrolling, actually, is what our coach (Bill Krefft) likes to say. It's not that it's unstoppable but our offensive coordinator, Coach (Tony) Navigato, he can attack any defense," said Rowell, who gained 208 yards on 15 carries in three quarters with touchdown runs of 86 and 1 yards.

Avoiding pursuit like he had eyes in the back of his head, Ricobene ran eight times for 195 yards and threw an 81-yard touchdown pass to Matt Sutton and a 42-yard touchdown pass to Khali Saunders. The Knights compiled 631 yards of offense.

"The first two plays of the game for them, we're down 14-0, that's the biggest thing," said Wilmington coach Jeff Reents, who won the 3A title in 2014. "We didn't run our defense the proper way, which happens sometimes. Now, their speed has something to do with that. But to be down that quick, I didn't want that, obviously."

Wilmington's double-tight end, double-wing offense, line splits so tight a paper couldn't slip between linemen's cleats, is not geared for dramatic comebacks. The Wildcats attempted four passes, completed none and leaned as always on quality wingbacks Owen Weaver and Dustin Kelly. They rushed for 188 and 125 yards, respectively.

"We knew they were going to take their shots. We knew they had a tough runner," said ICCP defensive coordinator Roger Kelley. "We said, we're just going to regroup after every play, take it play by play, line up again and play our style of football."

Working a head-spinning inside reverse with Weaver, Kelly splintered ICCP's seven-man front to score from 35 yards out to bring Wilmington within 13-7 at 4:45 of the first quarter. ICCP scored 18 unanswered points on Sam Buffo's 39-yard field goal and Ricobene's touchdown strikes to lead 31-7 at halftime.

By 7:10 of the third quarter, the Knights increased the score to 41-7 on Rowell's 86-yard run - the Knights' first play of the third quarter - and a 29-yard Buffo field goal.

"We just executed," Ricobene said. "Our offensive coordinator, Coach 'Nav,' he had a good game plan and our line (Jim Kenneally, Dylan Packer, Robert Vitek, Kemon Reese, Ricky Mysliwiec), and Jordan Rowell, just everyone executed it. We played real well."

Images: IC Catholic Prep vs. Wilmington playoff football

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