Benet football coach Pat New appreciates the fact that the Redwings had one of their best seasons in program history last fall.
He also remembers that last time they had a similar season — 27 years ago — way back in 1986 when New was a senior at Benet.
New doesn’t want the Redwings to have to wait another quarter century to produce their next 11-win season, and he’s hopeful that he has the weapons again this fall to have another unforgettable campaign.
“It’s hard to pinpoint all the factors and ingredients for success,” New said. “It’s dedication and a 12-month program of having kids dedicated to improving themselves. It’s finding great coaches, which we have right now, and probably ten other factors. So many things go into it in order to sustain and build year after year.”
It certainly helps having a quarterback like 6-foot-6 junior Jack Beneventi (2,318 yards, 20 TDs in 2012) to guide the offense. Beneventi’s already received plenty of college offers, including Notre Dame.
“His mechanics and fundamentals have improved from last year,” New said. “One of the things I tell the quarterbacks that I work with is that if you increase your arm strength, you’ll increase your velocity. From the naked eye it seems like he’s throwing 10 to 15 miles per hours faster than last year.”
What Beneventi doesn’t have is Jake Euritt (single-season school record 55 receptions in 2012) and Jack Toner (29 catches, 7 TDs in 2012) to throw to this fall, nor fullback Charles Melka. The Redwings do welcome back senior running backs Nick McTarnaghan and Porter Ontko.
“I think one of our biggest issues is to fill the holes from the big play wide receivers,” New said. “They were such a huge part of our team so that’s one of our biggest challenges.”
Overall, the Redwings return six starters on offense and five on defense.
“It’s nice to have balance with the guys we have returning,” New said. “A lot of these guys played 13 games (last year).”
The 2012 ESCC defensive player of the year, Jack Crain, was lost to graduation, as were two-way players, Melka and Toner, but defensive lineman Steve Hubona, Ontko at defensive back and third-year starting linebacker Colin Geier are back to lead the defense.
“I was talking to one of the offensive linemen and he said you can’t block Steve, and it’s great to have Colin back,” New said. “We feel we have good experience and can be as good as we were last year.”
A home game against St. Patrick on Sept. 13 is mixed in with three non-conference games, including a big test at Crete-Monee on Sept. 27.
The Redwings finish the regular and conference season with Marist and Joliet Catholic.
“Crete-Monee will be a big test. That’ll be tough,” New said. “We’ll know where we stand by Week 5.”