Benet Football Preview: The Dawn of a New Era

Jacob Infante ‘19

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Last season was one of the best in recent memory for the Benet Academy football team. They finished the regular season with a 7-2 record and advanced to the Class 7A semifinals. Although they lost at home to eventual winner East St. Louis, they had plenty to be proud of.

Fast forward a year later, and the Redwings’ roster has been completely overhauled. Key contributors like Marty Dosen, Ryan Liszka, and Alec McEachern have graduated, leaving incoming juniors and seniors to take their respective spots in the starting lineup. Perhaps no departure, however, is more significant than that of quarterback Jack Sznajder.

Sznajder was the starter on the varsity football team for three seasons. The dual-threat quarterback threw for 2,287 yards and 21 touchdowns last season for the Redwings and was a big part of the reason that Benet made it to the state semifinals. Taking his place is senior Matt Boyle. Boyle seems confident that he can pick up where Sznajder left off.

 

“Jack and I have been working together for about two years now so we have had a lot of time to develop together and work on our game.” Boyle told the Benet Herald. “Getting to watch him was great for me because I could learn a lot from a great quarterback like himself.”

Boyle has a handful of talented weapons to work with, which will help his transition into the starting role. Seniors Jack Eschenbach and Nick Keyes will line up as wide receivers, while junior Ben Hickey will take over Dosen’s starting position at running back. Boyle expressed confidence in his wideouts and running back, but he also praised his stout offensive line in an interview.

“I think we have a great offensive line, and they usually don’t get as much credit as they deserve, but they do an incredible job up front.” he said in an interview. Players like senior Danny Phillipp and junior Shane O’Mara will be tasked with giving Boyle time to let plays develop and find the open man.

The team is as strong as they’ve been in recent years on defense, especially at the linebacker spot. Senior Devin Petersen is coming off of a 152-tackle season which saw him get named to the All-Conference team last season. He will be joined by juniors Mike Wymer and Connor Burke, a transfer from California.

The biggest returning piece to the secondary is senior Ben Cooney. The shutdown cornerback, who had eight interceptions last year, is the only returning starter. Defensive backs like senior Connor Reid and junior Jack Cooney, Ben’s younger brother, will make up a new tandem at safety.

After such a strong season last year, many expect Benet to build off of their semifinals appearance. However, the team isn’t fazed by such strong expectations.

“People obviously have a lot of high expectations for us this year because of our success last year, but we are just going to take it one week at a time.” Boyle said. “We are all very excited to get going and do our best every week.”

This year’s Redwing squad is full of fresh faces all across the depth chart. Time will tell if they prove to be as productive as last year’s team.

 

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