With nine seconds left in the game, Sam Corey scored a one yard touchdown to get Maine West to 13 points in a playoff game, yet another school record.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, the touchdown was not enough to overcome Benet, who soundly beat Maine West 35-13 in the first round of the IHSA 7A state playoffs, to end Maine West’s incredible season.
It didn’t take long for Benet to get on the board. After forcing a three and out on Maine West’s first possession, the Red Wings got the ball and marched down field capped off with a Colin Gillespie four yard touchdown run to give them the 7-0 lead.
“It was huge to score first,” said Benet head coach Pat New. “We knew they haven’t been here since 2002, they were pretty fired up. I’m really impressed with the pride and enthusiasm they have in their program and we knew we had to set the tone early.”
Benet would go on to score two more touchdowns in quick succession off of big plays, a 50 yard pass from Gillespie to Ben Cooney, and a 44 yard run from Gillespie after a Maine West interception to make it a 21-0 lead.
Maine West finally broke through the Red Wing’s defense with three minutes left in the first half. Quarterback George Markakis found Matt Kentgen for a eight yard touchdown pass.
Moments later, It looked as though Maine West was on the comeback trail. The Warriors picked off Gillespie and returned the ball all the way to the Benet 22, but a block in the back penalty called it back and Benet went into the half up 21-7.
On the first play from scrimmage out of halftime, Benet would extend their lead with a 65 yard touchdown run from Michael Wymer, cementing Benet’s lead at 28-7.
Try as they might, Maine West could not muster up enough offensive firepower to respond to the Red Wing’s quick score. The defensive front of Benet gave Markakis no time to operate, raking up eight sacks on the night.
“We weren’t clicking on offense. We couldn’t get Matt Kentgen going, out run game was struggling with Jake Bellizi and Walter Hutt,” said Maine West coach Jason Kradman.
“It was tough sledding up front. They did a nice job on defense and like I’ve said, I think their middle linebacker is one heck of a player and their secondary may be one of the best secondaries I’ve seen in a long time.”
Benet would add one more touchdown, an eight yard pass from Gillespie to Andrew Eschenbach to make it 35-7 before Corey’s touchdown would give the game its final at 35-13.
Despite the loss, there is still so much that this Maine West team can be proud of. In just four short years, the Warriors went from a perennial one to two win team, to hosting a IHSA playoff game.
“The seniors are the guys that got us to this point,” said Kradman. “The guys in years past built the foundation and these seniors took advantage of it and led us to a tremendous season. Obviously the season didn’t end the way we would have liked, but we’re excited about the future but we’ll definitely miss the seniors.”
Coach Kradman would then go on to speak a little bit about every senior who has brought the program to where it is today, one of those being Kentgen, who as a three year varsity starter, really saw the program develop.
“We started from the bottom and built our way up and to get to what we had this season was truly amazing, it was a great ride. Coach Kradman had a plan for us, we followed that plan and it got us to the playoffs for the first time in a very long time,” said Kentgen.
“I just want to say thanks to my family, friends, teammates and coaches. It was really a pleasure playing for all of them and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Although it may be the end of the road for Kentgen and his fellow seniors, the future is extremely bright for a young Maine West squad, who will return to the playoffs rather soon.