September 18, 2012

A change in direction

More news about: Benedictine
John Borsellino hasn't had much room to run in the Benedictine backfield, so the Eagles made room for him elsewhere.
Photo by Ralph Greenslade for D3sports.com

It’s hard to imagine to think halftime the season’s third game as a turning point, but it will be interesting to look back at Benedictine at the end of the season to see how it’s dramatic comeback 32-28 victory over Albion affected the Eagles.

Benedictine, the defending Northern Athletic Conference champions and favorite to win another title, was getting hammered at home – homecoming even on its Lisle, Ill. campus. Trailing 28-7 at halftime, coach Jon Cooper heard one of his players say as the team left the locker room, “Let’s turn this season around right now.”

“That was probably an appropriate statement,” Cooper said. “We didn’t come out of the gate with our best foot forward this season. This was an important half in some of our players’ minds and we were able to get it done.”

The Eagles not only shutout Albion in the second half, but solidified its passing game behind transfer Cyle Schultz. Schultz completed 18 of 31 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns in leading the comeback. Cooper said Schultz has given the Eagles a new dimension from its run-oriented offense. That wrinkle will come in handy when Benedictine opens conference play Saturday, Sept. 29 against Concordia (Wis.).

“Cyle is a transfer from Wayne State in Nebraska,” Cooper said. “He’s a very good athlete and a very good passer. It’s been interesting to see him assimilate into our offense and see how he’s transforming us a lit. Now, we’re still planning on lining up in the I-formation and doing some things there, but it’s nice to have Cyle back there.”

The emergence of Schultz hardly means that Benedictine is moving away from its offensive workhorse, All-NATHC running back John Borsellino. In fact, it’s Borsellino who’s emerging from his recent slot in the backfield to work out of the slot.

While Borsellino rushed for only 7 yards on seven carries, he caught nine passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Borsellino provided the back breaker with a 77-yard kickoff return after the Eagles picked up a safety in the fourth quarter.

"It's something I've done through high school and when I was at Illinois State I played receiver," Borsellino said after the game. "I played running back, but call me what you want to call me, I don't really care. I'm just out there to help the team."

“It’s kind of a Reggie Bush situation because John’s an all-purpose back,” Cooper said. “He can line up in the slot and catch the ball out of the backfield. We did some things a little differently from the past, still do some things. We need to use what it is in arsenal. Cyle’s skill set is a little different from what we had before.”

Cooper said he felt his team even took a step forward on defense, despite giving up 28 points in the first half to Albion. He said his defense is a little younger than he first expected, giving up 32.7 points per game. Cooper said taking these lumps now will make them better in the conference race.

“We’ve got some new kids playing there because of some injuries,” Cooper said. “We thought we would have eight or nine players returning on defense, but it has turned out to be only five or six. It’s more of an experience factor right now. Albion’s a great football team but he held them in the second half. This will help us down the road.”

Cooper said, actually, beating Albion is a sign of the Eagles’ improvement. Albion beat nationally ranked Wheaton 22-21 a week ago. It was that same Wheaton that that humbled Benedictine 48-7 in the opening week of the season.

“We know that every week is a separate entity onto itself,” Cooper said. “When we saw that Albion beat Wheaton, we told our team this is an opportunity for us to show that we’re not the same team that lost to Wheaton to start the season. Being able to face a comparable opponent to Wheaton was huge for us as a football team and it provided some motivation.”

Cooper said, though, for this game to have any impact on the season, the Eagles must continue to make strides on offense and defense.

“There are no sure things,” Cooper said. “The competitiveness of this conference is great. We went 5-2 in the NATHC-MIAA Challenge. Every team in our conference is better and we have to get better. We can’t stay at the same level we’re at right now. We’ve got to improve.”

Cyle Schultz, left, joined his brother Chris Schultz on the Benedictine offense.
Photo by Ralph Greenslade for D3sports.com 

Brotherly love

When Cyle Schultz joined Benedictine from Division II Wayne State in Nebraska, he joined his brother Chris, a senior wide receiver. Chris, who transferred from Wayne State earlier in his career, has caught 12 passes from his brother this season for 117 yards, behind Borsellino’s 17 catches for 248 yards this year.

What am I missing?

I want to hear your comments about what’s going happening on campus during the football season that’s unique, funny, unusual, etc. I’m always looking for fun things to add to the column. Who has the best tailgate? Tell me about it.

comments powered by Disqus

Clyde Hughes

Clyde Hughes has been writing sports at various times over the past 24 years, covering everything from high school, college and sporting events. A native of football-crazed Texas, Hughes works in Indiana and has written for numerous newspapers and magazines.
2003-04 columnist: John Regenfuss

Previous Columns

September 17, 2014
Monmouth finds it takes two to fill Trey's shoes
Trey Yocum is the standard-bearer for the Monmouth run game. But since his graduation, the Scots...
September 10, 2014
Elation and deflation
Austin Swenson looked a lot more like an exclamation point than a question mark for Rose-Hulman,...
September 3, 2014
10 games to watch for 2014
Around the Midwest returns for another year, with a look at the top games involving teams from the...
November 19, 2013
Bid brings excitement to Wash U
While there weren't many surprises in what teams from the Midwest made the Division III playoffs...
November 13, 2013
Red-letter day for Green Knights
Few moments in recent football history for St. Norbert are as memorable as this past weekend, when...
November 6, 2013
Bears surviving nail-biters
Wash U may well have seen its season flash before its eyes on Saturday. In fact, it's been that way...
October 31, 2013
Coming down to crunch time
North Central and Illinois Wesleyan face off, North Park surprises again, Concordia (Wis.) is in...
October 22, 2013
Illinois Wesleyan bouncing back
After finishing last season with four consecutive losses, IWU is bouncing back, heading into key...
October 16, 2013
North Central subscribes to the Cardinal Manual
Coach John Thorne's Cardinal Manual contains a different type of game plan – it gets the...
October 10, 2013
CUW takes a big step forward
Concordia (Wis.) is hoping it has righted the ship after a 1-2 start. And if the Benedictine game...
October 2, 2013
After chaotic summer, Maroons avoid falling
It must seem like a whirlwind for Chris Wilkerson and the University of Chicago, which was surprised...
September 24, 2013
Wheaton winning methodically
One of the largest senior classes in Wheaton history has the Thunder on an even keel.
September 19, 2013
Illinois College erasing sobering end to 2012
Illinois College's Garrett Campbell knows that it takes more than two games – not even nine...
September 11, 2013
For Franklin, playing close isn't enough
When Franklin saw No. 1 Mount Union storm back for the game-winning touchdown Saturday, coach Mike...
September 4, 2013
Games to watch for 2013
Over the next 11 weeks, there will be certain games that will define a team's entire season on their...

Other Columnists