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

November 18, 2014
Big hills to climb
Benedictine and Macalester each face tall orders on Saturday, as they travel to Wheaton and...
November 11, 2014
IC's seniors get one more shot
Michael Bates and the Illinois College Blueboys went to the playoffs as freshmen. On Saturday...
November 4, 2014
Benedictine makes mess of NACC
You can thank the Benedictine Eaglesand their 33-6 thrashing of defending NACC champion Concordia...
October 28, 2014
After dust settles, Franklin still the team to beat in HCAC
Franklin looked to be on the ropes a few weeks into the season, but the Grizzlies have rebounded and...
October 21, 2014
Little Brass Bell is simply never just another game
Wheaton and North Central have played for years with the Little Brass Bell on the line. And for most...
October 14, 2014
Consistent Carroll looks to climb
Carroll has won 70 percent of its games the past five seasons, but that hasn't been enough to bring...
October 8, 2014
So far, Chicago not singing the blues
For the second season in a row, the University of Chicago is off to a 4-0 start. The Maroons are...
October 1, 2014
For Thornes, it's all in the family
John Thorne announced this week he would be stepping aside at the end of the season to hand the...
September 23, 2014
Looking for a reboot
Garrett Wenzelburger and the Concordia (Wis.) Falcons aren't off to a great start, but they have a...
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...

Other Columnists