In a game that will have Catholic League White title implications if not decide it, Aurora Christian returns from two weeks on the road Friday to play host to Bishop McNamara.
“This is a huge game,” Eagles coach David Beebe conceded. “When we got the schedule back in January, this was one that we had the date circled because Bishop McNamara is such a tremendous program.”
The Fightin’ Irish (3-1, 2-0) feature an “extra special” running back the Eagles (4-0, 1-0) will have to be aware of on defense, the first-year coach noted.
“Jonathan Ward is a (5-11, 174) junior and one of the best in the state,” Beebe said. “He can flat out fly. He runs hard. He can catch the ball and he’s a tremendous athlete.”
Legendary Bishop McNamara coach Rich Zinanni is in his 40th year at the school. His teams have made the playoffs 32 times and had only two losing seasons in his tenure.
Irish QB Brent Hakeman missed the final 1 1/2 quarters of last week’s 27-21 win over St. Laurence with an apparent hand injury, but “I expect him to play,” Beebe said.
“They have a special wideout, good fullback and a defense that is very sound.”
The Eagles have had an easier go of it, facing opponents who are a combined 4-12. Bishop McNamara foes are 8-8.
Senior Austin Bray leads area quarterbacks with 969 yards passing and 16 touchdowns. He threw for only 145 yards in last week’s 43-28 win over St. Ignatius but ran for 83.
“We had an interception return for a touchdown, returned a kick for a score and had two others out to almost the 50, though, so we were working with a shorter field,” Beebe said.
Broken bone sidelines Frank
Wide receiver Zach West returned to the field last week and had an impact for No. 23 Oswego’s football team in its 28-14 win at Minooka, but junior quarterback Steven Frank remained sidelined.
“Steven has a fracture of a non-weight bearing bone in his leg,” Oswego coach Brian Cooney said. “It’s not something that required surgery, but could take some time.”
Frank was injured in the Panthers’ Week three win over Plainfield Central.
“He’s having ongoing checkups and I keep hoping the next one is when he gets cleared to go,” Cooney continued. “He’s in a walking boot but also has crutches to assist him in case the pain flares up.
“He’s taken every step he can to try to get back and, as you can imagine with a (competitive) kid like Steven, he’s very anxious to get back. In fact, last week (at Minooka) I couldn’t get him to shut up on the sidelines.”
Frank was very much into the game and offering suggestions non-stop, or so it seemed at times to his coach.
“At one point I had to tell him to get back because he was too close to the sideline,” Cooney said. “I told him, ‘You need to be careful or you’re gonna get hit and break the other leg.’”
West didn’t come out for the team in preseason but changed his mind after the first game and had to get in the IHSA-mandated number of practices before becoming eligible to play.
He caught three passes for 93 yards from Frank’s replacement, junior Carter Turnquist. One of them went for a 76-yard TD when a defender slipped in the flat.
“Zach did a little bit of a stiff arm to get away from him and then outran a linebacker,” Cooney said.