A great deal of Marist’s chance for success this season rests on the shoulders of defensive lineman Gavin McCabe. He’s the bedrock of the RedHawks defense.
McCabe more than delivered on Friday in a 23-14 win against arch rival Brother Rice in the Battle of Pulaski. He finished with ten tackles, four for a loss.
“We expect big things from him,” Marist coach Ron Dawczak said. “He’s a talented player and he stepped up when we needed him most.”
Each of those big plays were especially key since the RedHawks were suffering through a strange mass-cramping incident.
In the third quarter there were at least eight players getting cramps worked out on the Marist sideline.
“It was crazy,” McCabe said. “I drank about seven coconut waters, that’s what the tell us to do. And I started cramping up at the end. At one point I think we had three of our starting wide receivers out. That’s something we are going to have to check out and make sure it doesn’t happen next week.”
Marist sealed the win by tackling Brother Rice quarterback Evan Sullivan for a safety with 4:50 left in the game. Linebacker Colin Bohanek, a sophomore, made the tackle. McCabe and Danny Meehan helped provide the pressure.
“Everyone told us they’d be running the ball,” McCabe said. “That isn’t exactly what they did. We have the best coaches in the state and they had us prepared for everything.”
Marist junior Billy Skalitzky busted open a 66-yard touchdown run with 4:20 left in the first quarter to put the RedHawks ahead 7-0. On the next possession Brother Rice fumbled the snap while punting out of the end zone. Junior Kendric Nowling fell on the ball for the touchdown and Marist led 14-0 with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
“It was kind of sloppy but the kids made plays when we needed them to,” Dawczak said. “We told them it wasn’t going to be easy. They dug down deep and made plays when it mattered.”
Running back Delonte Harrell had 16 carries for 53 yards for the RedHawks. He missed a key part of the third quarter with cramps.
“Maybe we were just too excited,” Harrell said. “It was bad, I had cramps in both legs, could barely walk. The trainers helped me out and got me back. I knew I needed to get back out there.”
Marist sophomore Jadon Thompson flashed plenty of promise. The young receiver caught four passes for 64 yards. Quarterback Mike Markett finished 9 for 18 passing for 91 yards.
“[This win] is so much bigger than just our team,” McCabe said. It’s for every Marist RedHawk that has played Brother Rice. It’s really special.”
Brother Rice rotated Sullivan, a senior, and junior John Bean at quarterback on each possession. Sullivan was 5 for 12 for 36 yards and one touchdown. Bean was 9 for 17 for 115 yards and threw two interceptions.