Defensive dominance leads to shutout for St. Rita

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Defensive dominance leads to shutout for St. Rita

Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
11:14 PM

By Pat DiSabato
YourSeason.com

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.
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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.

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Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

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First came the roar from the home crowd. Then a bunch of fans in the first deck beyond third base stood to watch Yoan Moncada. The patient approach surfaced next.

Moncada made his White Sox debut on Wednesday night and although it didn’t feature any highlight reel moments, there were plenty of good signs. Moncada drew a walk in his first plate appearance and also lined out hard to center field in his last. The rookie second baseman went 0-for-2 as the White Sox lost 9-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It was fun to watch him come in,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I saw him in Triple-A for a while, he’s a great talent. It’s good to have some good defense. That first at-bat was obviously really good. Fought it back to 3-2, got that walk. Two good swings.”

“It was cool. It got very loud when he came up to the plate, as we expected. That was fun to watch.”

The hype and energy surrounding the arrival of baseball’s top prospect was easy to detect.

The amount of media members on hand to document Moncada’s first game was akin to an Opening Day crowd. Every camera was aimed on Moncada, who flew in from Rochester, N.Y. earlier in the day to join the White Sox.

News of Moncada’s promotion at 11 p.m. Tuesday boosted the announced crowd of 24,907 by 5,000 fans, according to the team. Fans arrived early, some in Moncada White Sox No. 10 jerseys direct from China, while others brought Twinkies, the second baseman’s favorite snack food. Moncada spotted some of those bearing the sugary snacks when he stepped out of the home dugout and onto the field about 45 minutes before first pitch. Moncada, a former teammate of Jose Abreu’s in Cuba, received a loud ovation as he started to stretch.

“I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

The rumble was even louder when Moncada stepped in for his first Major League plate appearance since he played for the Boston Red Sox last September. Though he quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, Moncada never wavered. He took several closes pitches, fouled off two more, and drew a nine-pitch walk.

“He had some nice at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously worked a walk. Hit two balls well. He looked very comfortable. Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

Moncada’s second trip resulted in a groundout to first base. He fell behind 0-2 once again before working the count even. Moncada then ripped an 88-mph from Maeda down the right-field line only to have it go foul by several feet before grounding out on the next pitch.

Moncada got ahead 2-0 in the count in his final plate appearance as he faced reliever Ross Strippling. He produced an easy, fluid swing on the 2-0 pitch and ripped a 93-mph fastball for a line drive but it found the glove of center fielder Joc Pederson. The ball exited Moncada’s bat at 102.5 mph, which normally results in a hit 62.5 percent of the time, according to baseballsavant.com.

“I felt good,” Moncada said. “I think that I executed my plan. I didn't get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan.”

“I made my debut last year but this one was special, it had kind of the same feeling for me.”