Linemen pave way for IC Catholic's win over Benet
As the offensive line goes, so goes the offense.
IC Catholic Prep proved that Friday night against Benet.
The Knights marched into Benedictine University's field in Lisle and came away with a 34-9 win over the Redwings, and a ton of the credit for the victory went to the play of its O-line.
IC senior running back Joey Gliatta rushed for 108 yards and 3 touchdowns, all in the first half, and he was quick to acknowledge the guys who paved the way.
"Our line just went from the beginning," said Gliatta, "and that's what pushed us through today."
Offensive linemen Jackson Ramos, Michael Calcagno, Nathen Omolo, Dan Grien and John Niecikowski, all seniors, excelled in the CSL/ESCC crossover.
"We just try to work together as a team," said Niecikowski.
"We pick up our players if they happen to get down, and we just come out here and do our job like our coaches taught us to do."
Benet trailed 28-0 at halftime, but came out with a more determined effort in the final two quarters.
"I don't want to say we underestimated them," said Redwings coach Pat New, "after all, they won the (Class 3A) state championship last year.
"So we came in to the game knowing that this was one of the top teams on our schedule, they're really talented, and they're really well coached. We just let things get away from us in the first half. We want the kids to play with toughness, and I think they came out after halftime and played a little harder. I guess that's the silver lining."
The Knights scored four times on the ground in the first half while limiting Benet to just 28 yards of total offense.
Gliatta had touchdowns from 37, 6, and 5 yards out, and classmate Aaron Harvey ran one in from 3 yards away.
Meanwhile the IC defense was putting on a show as well. Linebacker Foley Calcagno made several big stops, and Eric Karner had a sack late in the second stanza to stop a Benet drive.
KJ Parker contributed to the Knights' stellar defensive effort with a first half interception.
"We knew Benet was a tough team, we knew they had some good D-lineman," said Gliatta. "I feel like our team got it going, and we were ready for them."
IC (3-0) scored just after intermission to make it 34-0.
Harvey, who rushed 24 times for 137 yards, found the end zone again, this time running off tackle from 6 yards out.
Benet finally broke through with a safety in the third quarter, then the offense went on a long fourth quarter drive.
It culminated in an 8-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ryan Kubacki, but that's as close as Benet (2-1) could get.
Niecikowski added that he and his teammates are looking forward to what the year brings after winning the title in 2022.
"I'm just excited for the season," Niecikowski said. "I get to be with my boys that I've been with for four years. We're looking to repeat what we did last year."
Pat Pitello had a stellar game for Benet. The senior wide receiver caught 9 passes for 94 yards.
"He plays big," said New. "He's one of the best players on our team. He's tough and knows how to find his way in to the end zone."