Countdown to FNL: Benet Academy

1-8 just two seasons ago, Benet shocked everyone after going 8-1 in the regular season and making a deep run into the state playoffs. With most of that group back, they look to contend again.

One of the biggest surprises in the state of Illinois last season was the complete turnaround by Benet Academy. A team that struggled two years ago to a one-win season came out firing and stunned several top teams in the western suburbs of Chicago en route to an 8-1 regular season and a loss in the state semifinals to Lincoln-Way East.

One of the biggest keys to the turnaround is junior quarterback Jack Beneventi. The #4 quarterback in the nation in the recently released Scout 300 for 2015 has all the tools a quarterback needs to be successful. As just a sophomore last year, he showed not only a high skill level, but also exhibited great poise for a younger player.

And protecting his blind side is an athlete with several major division one offers... in basketball. Sean O'Mara is a future high-major basketball player, but he's also a solid left tackle and kept Beneventi protected last season.

Here are a couple of games to pay attention to this year for Benet.

Primetime!: 9/20 at Crete-Monee

Easily the toughest game on their schedule, Beneventi and Benet will be tested against the toughest defense they'll see all year. Senior linebacker Nyles Morgan and senior defensive end Chris Slayton combine to give Crete-Monee a formidable front seven, while junior safety Omari Stringer is a player you'll probably be hearing more about soon. Get past this one and it could be the launching pad to another great record.

Tough Closer - Round 1: 10/18 at Marist

A week 8 matchup against a talented Marist team is the first of two end-of-season matchups that will be a real test for Benet. Marist, who Benet upset last year, features two talented pass-catchers in Notre Dame tight end commit Nic Weishar and junior receiver Flynn Nagel. Keeping those two in check will be the key for the Redwings.

Tough Closer - Round 2: 10/25 v. Joliet Catholic

Joliet Catholic is never an easy team to beat. Obviously they no longer have the same talent at running back as they did the past few years with guys like Josh Ferguson, Malin Jones, and Ty Isaac all at BCS programs, but they're a well-coached and disciplined team. Benet needs to keep up a high level of play to avoid a slip right before the playoffs.

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