By Jack Aler ‘19
Legendary – of, relating to, or of the nature of a legend; a.k.a. our Brother Rice football organization.
The number one seed Brother Rice Crusaders conquered the number 32 seed Fighting Zee-Bee’s of Zion-Benton in the first round of the IHSA state playoffs.
As one could deduce from those seeds, the Crusaders were heavy favorites to win. Going into any game where your team is a heavy favorite, being humble is extremely important.
In this year of sports, seeding has not particularly meant much. March Madness was a tough time for me personally. If anyone remembers, the number 1 seed Virginia was knocked out in the first round to 16 seed UMBC. Heartwarming Cinderella story for some, disastrous for others, bracket-breaking for me. World Cup favorite Germany, winners of the 2014 World Cup, did not even make it past the group stages. I called that one though, true story. These phenomena have trained fans to be on edge no matter how clear things look.
However, the Crusaders were determined to not be another one of those statistics.
When I asked Head Coach Brian Badke how confident the Crusaders are each week, he said, “This group puts in a countless amount of time, effort, and work each day at practice, so that when it comes to game day, they expect to succeed. It’s not being overly confident; it’s just being prepared.”
This preparation explains why it does not take our players a few quarters to get warmed up and then start playing well. This is a key to our success and a testament to what Coach Badke was saying about the team being prepared. It is also a nice perk for our fans. Being stressed out the entire game in the fan section is something most would rather avoid.
The Crusaders have established dominance many times this season. They are not afraid to walk onto the field and score seconds later. I asked running back Jessi Plunkett, “Do you guys walk out there thinking ‘We need to score quick”? Or is that just something that happens?”
Plunkett said, “We have a game plan going out there and we know exactly what we need to do, but sometimes we just get rolling. On Saturday, we got rolling and everything worked out.”
Luckily, the Crusaders have endurance as well. They are prepared for every situation. The first game of their season was the closest scoring game for us this year. They beat Marist 20-16 with a spectacular defensive stop ultimately ending the game. Whenever games get close like that, quarterback John Bean has motivation ready to give his team. When in the huddle, his message is usually along the lines of “Let’s get this bread, boys!” Something about that eases the tension but also hypes up anyone who needs it.
Endurance was not needed in this chapter of playoff football.
At the end of the first quarter, the Crusaders already commanded a powerful lead of 21-0. They added to that, and by the end of the second quarter, they were winning 49-0.
Zion-Benton worked hard to get to this position and were fortunate enough to be above .500 this season. It is unfortunate for them that the Crusaders delivered the lethal blow to their season.