AURORA – Marmion defended 16, 20 and 11 passes in its first three games.
The Cadets are liable to be backpedaling a little more through the end of September.
A crucial Suburban Christian Conference Blue stretch that begins with tonight’s visit from aerially adept Marian Central leaves the team in a curious position. If history’s any guide, players should know most of what’s coming from opposing offenses. Still, that won’t make it a lock to shut the prolific Hurricanes, Montini or Aurora Christian down.
“You have to take some precautions. Play maybe a little deeper and just watch what you’re doing more,” senior safety Tom Jude said. “Versus the run, we all can just flow to it. But if you get caught up in the run and they pass, it can bite you.”
Marmion (1-2, 1-0 SCC Blue) likes the momentum its defense gathered from last week’s romp against St. Edward after clamping down in Week 2 at Fenwick.
“Execution” was the biggest buzzword, as the Cadets limited the Green Wave to just more than three yards a carry on 55 rushing attempts while snagging an interception among 11 pass plays.
Whatever way offenses lean, the team feels comfortable in its personnel while proudly carrying the badge of the top-hitting secondary in coach Dan Thorpe’s eight seasons.
Pop-up tackling dummy drills were obvious staples during noncontact summer workouts and 7-on-7s, but they have remained a 15-minute daily devotion in practice throughout the fall.
“Just all through the summer, we were flowing to the ball,” said senior cornerback Jake Ruddy, a Batavia resident. “We couldn’t hit then, but just doing the dummy drill every day works on our technique. There’s just something about the whole defense, not just the D-backs. I mean, we like hitting.”
Marian Central (3-0, 1-0) features dual-threat quarterback Chris Streveler, who enters the game with 13 total touchdowns – including seven through the air. Keeping him down – or at least contained – remains the goal.
With cornerback Tyler Eberth and safety Charlie Faunce, Jude and Ruddy are eager for the challenge and the possibility of rallying for a postseason berth. The quartet has played together since middle school, bringing comfort in the quest to make the Hurricanes uncomfortable.
“You’ve got to dictate to them,” Thorpe said, “because if you let them dictate, you’re in for a long night. Both teams work on rhythm, and you’ve got to mess theirs up.”
Junior Seth Sevenich has rotated in with the Cadets’ core group, and is no slouch tackler, either.
Marmion knows it will be tested in coverage, too, but having a good tackling base is where it starts. Given Marian Central’s penchant for empty backfield sets, that just makes more opponents to potentially bring down.
“We have a really solid defense,” Ruddy said. “The D-backs have gotten burned a couple times, but we bounce back. We make plays after that.”
Resiliency can’t hurt the Cadets over the next few weeks. The ball is likely to go in the air more than it remains on the ground. Either way, they must keep pursuing it.