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Disabato: Marist looks like the real deal

Peter Andreotti Marist finds hole against Homewood-Flossmoor. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

Peter Andreotti, of Marist, finds a hole against Homewood-Flossmoor. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 4, 2012 6:13AM



Marist had its skeptics as far as the SouthtownStar’s No. 1 preseason ranking was concerned.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go in the season; two wins does not make a season a success. But after posting two victories against Catholic League Blue teams — 35-25 in Week 1 vs. St. Rita and 49-35 Friday over Brother Rice — Marist proved, without a doubt, it’s worthy of the lofty standing.

Last I checked, the Catholic Blue is still one of, if not the, best conferences in the state.

“It’s awesome; a great feeling to beat Catholic League Blue teams,” said Marist’s Peter Andreotti, who rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns against Brother Rice. “I think what we showed is that we’re a team. It’s not just about Woody (Ian Woodworth), Wish (Nic Weishar) or (Bryan) Polak. It’s the whole team.”

Great analysis, young man.

What impressed me most about Marist on Friday was its defense. It’s vastly improved from the unit that allowed 319 points in 10 games in 2011.

The 35 points allowed to Rice are misguided. The RedHawks led 49-14 early in the fourth quarter, the horses were out of the barn and so were most of the defensive starters.

The starting unit had Rice quarterback Matt Page scrambling as if he were being chased by a horde of stinging yellow jackets not RedHawks. Marist registered six sacks, with Shannon Smith, Josh Hickey, Mike Layer and Tim Finucane bringing constant heat.

Special teams was outstanding, blocking two punts, including one for a touchdown by Jimmy Smith.

What should really concern future opponents is that despite posting 84 points the first two games combined, Marist’s offense is not hitting on all cylinders.

The RedHawks left some points — namely, the passing game — on the field against Rice.

“There’s a lot of room to improve in all three facets of the game,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said. “But I couldn’t be more proud of the players and how they’ve responded so far.”

The most glaring area to tighten up: penalties. The RedHawks were hit with more than 100 yards worth Friday, including five 15-yarders.

That could be the difference between victory or defeat in a close game.

Dunne could have awarded the game ball to numerous players, but it was hard to dispute the impact of Flynn Nagel, whose older brothers, Aaron and Brett, graduated from Lemont and played college ball at Northwestern.

The sophomore returned kicks, punted, rushed the ball and recorded four catches, including a 16-yarder for a touchdown. He also hauled in a 2-point conversion pass from Woodworth that upped the RedHawks’ lead to 28-7.

“Flynn can do a lot of things for us, which he showed tonight,” Dunne said.

I’m eager to see how Rice responds to the loss. The 48-14 win over Shepard in Week 1 is a distant memory, it seems. The Crusaders travel to Bishop McNamara on Friday night. If playoff aspirations are going to be realized, this is a game the Crusaders likely will need to win to secure a spot.

As far as the crowd, it was mammoth, but well behaved. Try as the Rice personnel did of denying the RedHawk Rowdies access to the field, it couldn’t be prevented. The Rowdies stormed the field, similar to Rice’s Crusader Crazies last season, to celebrate the Pulaski Road Super Bowl win.

Stagg fans were very excited after a 43-14 season-opening win over Hillcrest. Who could blame them. The Chargers were 1-17 over the previous two seasons. I warned Charger Nation, though, not to get too amped up and that a Week 2 meeting with Sandburg would provide a better gauge.

Sandburg 55, Stagg 7.

That’s the sound of some air being let out of the balloon.

One of the most impressive wins of the weekend was St. Rita’s 49-7 trouncing over Danville.

Danville’s not an easy place to play, with the concrete bleachers, cinder track and the presence of home fans right on top of the end zone. Additionally, Danville has qualified for the playoffs six straight seasons and has advanced to the Class 6A semifinals two of the last three.

But the Mustangs, after a Week 1 loss to Marist, made a statement.



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