Defensive dominance leads to shutout for St. Rita


Defensive dominance leads to shutout for St. Rita

Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
11:14 PM

By Pat DiSabato

St. Rita coach Todd Kuska has waited all season for his team to produce a complete 48 minutes of solid football. The wait is over.

Jahwon Akui rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns and the Mustang defense stuffed an explosive Carmel offense en route to a dominant 21-0 victory in a Class 7A quarterfinal Saturday night in Chicago. St. Rita advances to take on Lake Zurich, a 17-14 winner over Simeon, next weekend.
Photos: Carmel vs. St. Rita

"We talked about it before the game how we need to put together 48 minutes of good football," said Kuska, whose Mustangs improved to 11-1. "We feel like we haven't done that yet. But tonight, especially on defense and special teams, we really played well."

It would be an insult to refer to the Mustangs performance on defense any other than dominant.

Carmel had averaged 38 points and approximately 340 yards of offense entering the contest. On this night, it would total just 171 yards. It was the first time Carmel's high-powered offense had been blanked in nine years.

The Mustangs frontline of Ben Tomasek, Pat O'Connor, Joe Filomeno and Charlie Buche were relentless. Carmel quarterback Brian Serio registered a team-high 94 yards rushing, but he had to fight for every single one of them.

Linebackers Ryan McGowan, Matt Mullen and Will McNamara were outstanding as well.

"They just tore us up defensively," admitted Carmel coach Andy Bitto, whose team capped off its season at 10-2. "They were just pushing us backwards. We haven't struggled like that in a long time. Hats off to their defense."

Neither team could establish much offense in the first quarter.

That would change, at least for the Mustangs, in the second period.

St. Rita mixed up its attack during a 13-play, 79-yard scoring drive. Quarterback Brandon Johnson (6 of 14, 115 yards) completed a pair of clutch passes, both to Bobby Gallagher that covered 7 and 14 yards. That forced Carmel, which had loaded up to eight players in the box, to honor the Mustangs ability to pass.

Akui eventually capped off the drive, leaping in from one yard for a 7-0 lead at 7:02 of the second quarter. Chris Donahue added the first of his three extra point kicks.

"It's not that we can't pass," Kuska said. "We pass when we have to or when we want to."

When St. Rita tacked on another score, with Johnson hitting a wide-open Mitch Saffold from 29 yards out at 11:30 of the fourth quarter, the lead stretched to 14-0.

Carmel was forced to pass the football more often, something it prefers not to do.

Serio attempted one pass in the first half and finished 4 of 10 for 13 yards.

"We don't pass very much and most of the time, we don't have to," Bitto said. "We average like 340 yards of offense and we didn't even come close to that. They just totally outplayed us."

Akui applied the icing on the cake with a 26-yard TD run with 3:42 to go.

"I'm just happy to be practicing still," said Kuska, when asked about next week's opponent. "We've got a lot of work to do."

Travis Starks added 35 yards of rushing on six carries for St. Rita.

Morning Update: Bears beat 49ers; Blackhawks' offense struggles in loss to Jets


Morning Update: Bears beat 49ers; Blackhawks' offense struggles in loss to Jets

Here are some of the top stories from Sunday in Chicago sports:

Five Things to Watch: Bulls back in action against Trail Blazers

Tune in tonight for Chicago Bulls Charities Night

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

Bears offense finds groove in win over 49ers

Winter meetings preview: Why teams will find trying to copy a ‘Cubs Way’ rebuild is easier said than done

White Sox revamp would mean fewer 'stopgaps' and 'half-measures'

Significance of Bears win over 49ers lies beyond records and score

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

Bears' Matt Barkley 'showing the world' he can be a starting QB in the NFL

Lars Johansson excited for Blackhawks call-up

Bulls pass out Christmas gifts to Chicago youth on Sunday

Bulls pass out Christmas gifts to Chicago youth on Sunday

It was hard to tell who was more excited Sunday afternoon: the Bulls players or the 400 kids who stopped by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry as the team passed out Christmas gifts for kids who reside in the Chicago family housing development.

Robin Lopez was carrying about Benny the Bull, much to the surprise and delight of many kids who were in attendance, while Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo took photos and passed out gifts to every child.

Rondo established roots in Chicago long before becoming a Bull, but has become entrenched in the months since signing with the franchise, being a part of the 17th annual holiday party.

“It’s definitely an honor. An honor to be a Bull,” Rondo said. “Since Day 1 when I got here I thought they were the best organization as far as giving back to the community, and it shows. They do it without hesitation.

“Very welcoming. The people have been great. The kids have been here since Day 1 supporting us as well. It’s very exciting.”

Bulls volunteers served lunch provided by Papa John’s, Coca-Cola and Edy’s Ice Cream, as the holiday party is one of the 30 events the Bulls are organizing as part of the team and NBA Cares’ “Season of Giving.”

“It’s no problem for any of us,” Lopez said. “Look at Raj, look at Jimmy, they’re having a blast out there. They’re having as good of a time as the kids out there.”

Being a California native, the newfound snowfall added to the atmosphere for Lopez.

“This really feels like Christmas,” Lopez said. “I can feel the spirit inside with the kids and the looks on their faces when they walk in and see the toys, they see Jimmy Butler and they’re so excited to be a part of it.”

Whether it was Barbie Dreamhouses, or Nerf basketball rims, the kids were ecstatic to see the Bulls and to pick out the toys being distributed by the Bulls’ stars.

“Very humbling. Over 400 kids. And every kid comes through all smiling and excited,” Rondo said. “Some of them don’t get toys all year and this time of year is about giving. I’m very humbled.”

Butler has been around Bulls Charities since being drafted in 2011, so although this is old hat, he hasn’t lost any of the spirit that comes with doing events like this year after year.

He posed with kids for photos and cracked jokes to the younger basketball fans.

“Feels good. I just like being here. It’s what this time of year is all about, seeing these kids smile,” Butler said. “I love kids, I love this city, I want everybody to be happy all the time. However I can make that happen, especially around Christmas and the holidays, I’ll do.”

Lopez is quiet to many who see him on the floor, but his eyes lit up around the kids and made Benny the Bull his personal prop by picking him up and carrying him through the museum.

“Every time I see it, it’s a wonderful feeling. To think I’m a small part of it, I can’t begin to describe it,” Lopez said. “Any opportunity I get to work with kids, that’s always easy yes in my book. I’m a big kid at heart. Any time I can go play, I’m in.

“It’s indescribable. I got so many great gifts as a kid, and blessed in so many ways. Just to be able to give back in any facet, that’s an easy yes.”

Sunday's event leads up to Monday's Chicago Bulls Charities Night at the United Center. The Bulls host the Portland Trailblazers at 7 p.m. on CSN.