With the weather getting worse and the days getting shorter, Ben Hickey is ready to run.
For the Benet junior running back, Saturday against Class 7A’s top seed, Hononegah, offered a good time as any to put his head down and churn forward.
Hickey’s 162 total yards and a touchdown helped spur 17th-seeded Benet to a 26-0 second-round upset of the Indians at Benedictine University.
“When we get going, we keep running and keep the tempo up,” Hickey said. “We can really wear down a defense. Once we wear it down, we can just go from there.”
His 142 rushing yards on 20 carries helped support four field goals from kicker Victor Karam as the Redwings (8-3) advance to play ninth-seeded Lincoln-Way Central next week.
It’s the first time ever the program has reached the state quarterfinals in back-to-back seasons.
“That’s exciting,” Benet coach Pat New said. “I’m really proud of our players. We have a lot of work to do, though. I’ve said (to our team) the jubilation of reaching the quarters isn’t what it used to be and that’s a good sign. I mean that in a good way. We certainly want to take this as far as we can go.”
Seven Redwing defenders earned All-East Suburban Catholic Conference honors this fall.
In posting the program’s first postseason shutout since 1984, they played like it.
Benet limited Hononegah (10-1) to six first downs and intercepted Indians quarterback Ryan VanSchelven twice.
Junior cornerback Billy Lawler and senior cornerback Ben Cooney were responsible for the interceptions, which increased the defense’s combined total to 20.
“I feel we’ve been putting in a lot of work every week and we’re slowly getting better and better,” Lawler said. “We’re never satisfied with where we are. We’re always looking to get better.
“(Co-defensive coordinator John) Nestor is leading us. He had us totally prepared for this game. So it’s a group effort. But we’re not satisfied here and we have to keep winning.”
The ability to get the defense’s first shutout since Week 3 never left the mind of junior defensive lineman Jack Benish, an All-ESCC selections.
“We had a game plan – we had to stop their run and we did it,” Benish said. “They just passed it and then our DBs are amazing. So you have to give it up to them for doing this.”
Sophomore quarterback Colin Gillespie, who completed 12 of 20 passes with a touchdown and two interceptions, received quite a bit of support.
Along with Hickey’s big night, senior kicker Victor Karam tied his career high with four field goals.
Karam converted successfully from 28, 22, 41 and 30 yards.
His night was highlighted by the 41-yard field goal late in the third quarter going through despite hitting the crossbar.
“I do welcome the pressure,” he said. “I like it. It’s what I train for. It’s part of the job and the great kickers will make it. I’m glad I made them all.”