High school football: Marian Central ready for 'balanced' Sterling attack in Class 5A quarterfinals

Daryl Quitalig - For Shaw Media
Marian Central Catholic's Bryce Radcliffe (11) and Charlie Kramer (25) celebrate a touchdown in the fourth quarter of an IHSA Playoff Class 5A football game at Antioch High School Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. The Hurricanes won, 31-9.
Daryl Quitalig - For Shaw Media Marian Central Catholic's Bryce Radcliffe (11) and Charlie Kramer (25) celebrate a touchdown in the fourth quarter of an IHSA Playoff Class 5A football game at Antioch High School Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. The Hurricanes won, 31-9.

Marian Central occasionally will switch up who is taking the snap. Just don’t call it a “wildcat” formation around coach Mike Maloney.

“I love when people call it ‘wildcat,’ because if you watch our practice, there’s no real change in package,” Maloney said. “There’s no substitution. It’s our same guys. We just have three quarterbacks on the field. That’s what makes it difficult.”

If there’s one good thing about having a bevy of injuries at the quarterback position, it is that A.J. Golembiewski, Gavin Scott and Patsy Ricciardi have all gotten reps at QB this season.

Although Golembiewski now serves as the main quarterback, Scott might take a snap here or there – just to throw off the defense.

“It’s a lot to process in a hurry-up scenario, in a tempo system,” Maloney said. “There’s no substitution indicators as to what alignment we’re going to be in, so I think that … forces [the defense] to make decisions quickly.”

The team tasked with finding an answer to the No. 14-seeded Hurricanes (7-4) this week is a formidable one, No. 2-seeded Sterling (11-0).

Like Marian, the Golden Warriors are making their second consecutive trip to the IHSA Class 5A state quarterfinals. Both teams lost in the quarterfinals last season. At 1 p.m. Saturday at George Harding Field in Woodstock, someone will be moving on to the state semifinals.

Sterling coach Jon Schlemmer was impressed with what he has seen from Marian. He noted that Golembiewski is “awfully good” for a player who started the year as the third-string quarterback.

“They’re battle-tested,” Schlemmer said. “From a couple of films that we’ve seen, you could see they were banged up early in the year. Their coaching staff did a great job of holding it together. Obviously, they’re getting healthy now, and they’re a real good football team.”

Sterling has pummeled opponents all season. Only one of their 11 wins was as close as a two-possession game, and that was way back in Week 1.

“They’re a big, tough team,” Marian defensive end Ben Keller said. “[They’re] undefeated, but we’re still coming out with the same mindset, got to go 1-0 every week. They’re a tough team, but we know we have the firepower to beat them and a will to do it.”

Maloney sees a well-balanced attack from Sterling.

“It starts with their tailback (Nyrel Sullivan),” Maloney said. “He’s a heck of a player. The quarterback (Trey Morse) does a nice job operating the system. He’s a running threat. He’s probably one of the better dual-purpose quarterbacks that we’ve seen all year. He can throw the ball.”

Keller and the defense will have their hands full, but they have answered every challenge over the past five weeks.

Marian and Sterling have one common opponent this season. Sterling beat St. Viator, 48-0, in the first round of the playoffs. Marian lost to St. Viator, 28-21, on Sept. 29, however, that was a banged-up Hurricanes team playing without Gavin Scott, among others.

Since then, Marian has won five consecutive games, emerging from a 2-4 start to the season to reach the postseason.

“[We’re] going with the ride,” Keller said. “We’re 5-0 ever since the Viator game. It’s been fun.”

No. 2 Sterling (11-0)

at No. 14 Marian Central (7-4)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

About the Hurricanes: Marian won its fifth consecutive game with a 38-24 victory over Glenbard South last week. … RB Gavin Scott has rushed for 979 yards and 11 touchdowns on 163 carries. … QB A.J. Golembiewski has thrown for 1,523 yards and 13 touchdowns, while completing 57.9 percent of his passes. … WR Bryce Radcliffe leads the Hurricanes with 42 catches for 542 yards and eight touchdowns. Charlie Kramer, Patsy Ricciardi and Jake Potthoff each have caught 17 passes or more on the season. … Glenbard South’s 24 points against Marian last week were the most the Hurricanes have allowed since a Week 6 loss to St. Viator, 28-21.

About the Golden Warriors: Sterling defeated Kaneland, 46-20, in the second round. … The Golden Warriors defense has allowed more than one touchdown in only three games this season. … RB Nyrel Sullivan has rushed for 1,611 yards and 31 touchdowns on 192 carries, good enough for 8.4 yards a carry. … QB Trey Morse has thrown for 1,050 yards and 13 touchdowns, along with two interceptions. He also has run for 541 yards on 83 carries. … WR Nolan Sullivan has caught a team-high 25 passes for 343 yards and six touchdowns, while WR Alek Duran has caught 22 passes for 417 yards and five touchdowns.

Up next: The winner advances to the state semifinals to meet the winner between No. 1 Phillips (11-0) and No. 4 Lemont (10-1).

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