FOOTBALL: Irish dominate Chargers on both sides for lopsided win
KANKAKEE — Bishop McNamara has seemed to get more dominant as the year has gone on.
The Irish were unstoppable from the opening whistle Friday night, as they ran wild with 316 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns on their way to a 55-0 win against Aurora Central Catholic.
For Irish coach Rich Zinanni, it didn’t matter who his team played; he just wanted to see them play sound football.
“I think we’re good, I really do, and we’re just trying to get better. We play the game against the game, not the opponent,” Zinanni said. “We’re very fundamentally sound, and the more fundamentally sound we are, the better of a team we’re going to be.”
The Irish took just two plays from scrimmage to score when Tyshon King busted free for a 48-yard touchdown after it initially looked as though he was tripped up at the line of scrimmage.
King, who was pulled about halfway through the second quarter and came back for one drive in the third, ran for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12 carries.
But it was the Irish defense King said deserved the credit Friday. The Irish, who scored on every possession except the end of each half, took over possession in plus-territory on eight of their 10 drives.
“The [defense] make[s] it so much easier, and it’s not just forcing three-and-outs,” King said. “They get turnovers, sacks, force short fields; they just make it easy on us.”
That defense was led by sophomore defensive end Caleb Smith and junior outside linebacker Damien Thornton. Smith had two sacks and an additional four tackles for loss, and Thornton had four tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
For Smith at defensive end, there were a multitude of pre-snap and post-snap reads for him to make in the Chargers motion-heavy, option-oriented spread offense. But the sophomore kept his composure and awareness and was able to find a home in the Chargers’ backfield.
“I just read the quarterback, see where the motion comes from and read the offensive line,” Smith said. “And then, I just play aggressively.
“Coach [Curt] Crossley just told me to play fast, so I played fast and just played ball.”
Thornton said his big night also was because of the success his teammate had in setting the edge.
“I just see Caleb Smith making them cut back outside, and I have contain on the outside,” Thornton said. “So, I have to come up and make the big plays.”
The shutout was the second of the season for the Irish defense, which is allowing 13 points per game. They had four sacks, 14 tackles for loss and held the Chargers to 96 offensive yards, with just nine of those coming on the ground, despite 33 attempts.
Offensively, King’s two touchdowns were just a microcosm of McNamara’s offensive onslaught. Smith, Dimond Brooks, Owen Jackson, Dorian Autmam and Manny Harris all scored rushing touchdowns.
Irish quarterback Tyler Hiller was 4-for-8 passing for 70 yards and a touchdown pass. Payton Gerberding caught Hiller’s touchdown pass from 32 yards out.
The Irish round out their regular season with a road game at Elmwood Park on Friday.