The St. Edward football players understand the challenge.
In order to reach the Class 4A state playoffs for a third straight season, the Green Wave must knock off one of their final four opponents from the Suburban Christian Conference, two of which entered the weekend ranked in the Class 5A poll.
Marian Central the No. 2 team in 5A was never in danger of falling victim to St. Edward's playoff crusade Friday. The physically superior Hurricanes scored touchdowns on six straight first-half possessions and shut down the Wave's running game in a 47-3 Blue Division victory at Greg True Field in Elgin.
Marian Central (6-0, 3-0), led by the offensive line of left tackle Kurtis Stirneman (6-foot-5, 280 pounds), left guard Christian Scroggs (6-0, 210), center Don Remke (5-9, 200), right guard Kyle Harper (5-11, 205) and right tackle Scott Taylor (6-4, 295), outgained St. Edward 399 yards to 202.
"At the end of the day, we were just outmatched against that team," said St. Edward coach Mike Rolando, whose team slipped to 4-2, 1-2.
"I still think we're a good 4A football team. If we can get one more win here in the next three weeks, maybe we'll get a chance to show people that. Obviously, we didn't show it tonight."
The St. Edward offense tried to run behind its best player, senior Evan Finnane, a 6-2, 255-pound lineman who has offers from Army and Air Force. Finnane lined up at guard, at tackle wherever the ball was headed. However, Marian Central soon "started figuring it out," Finnane said. "They started bringing blitzes and messing up plays in the backfield."
Finnane was outweighed by 30 pounds in the trenches by defensive tackles Taylor, committed to Northern Illinois, and Stirneman.
"I think we did a good job on him," Taylor said of Finnane. "I knew he was a good player because I played against him last year and I wrestled against him. A couple of miscues, but I think we took care of him for the most part."
The result was 24 rushing yards for St. Edward, which averages 283 yards rushing per game. Forced into third-and-long situations all night, Green Wave quarterback Bob French (12 of 34, 178 yards) was intercepted twice. Those picks on back-to-back possessions helped the Hurricanes score 3 touchdowns in a span of 1:48 of the second quarter, a burst that upped the lead from 19-3 to 40-3.
Offensively, 6-3 Marian Central quarterback Chris Streveler completed 9 of 17 attempts for 183 yards and 4 touchdowns. His main target was 6-2 receiver Kyle Thompson, who made 6 catches for 115 yards, including a 64-yard bomb on a post pattern that staked Marian Central to a 19-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
Hurricanes running back Sam Calderaro rushed 10 times through wide-open holes for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns.
"Yeah, they're big, and, yeah, they're No. 2 in 5A or whatever but rankings don't mean anything when you go out there," St. Edward two-way player Luke Duffy said. "
We beat ourselves and that's been our story. We haven't had a perfect game yet. We're waiting for that game where everyone sticks to their assignments.
"The only thing we can do is learn from this. The best thing about it is it's over."