Marist graduate NicWeishar juggling ND football, family charity
Jefferson leads dominant effort as the Crusaders stopMarist
While playing football, he’s helping with annual music fest honoring his brother Andrew.
Brother Rice junior Justin Jefferson doesn’t have a sack dance.
It might be time for the 6-foot, 220-pound defensive lineman to invent one.
Jefferson had three sacks Saturday to lead a dominant defensive performance by Brother Rice during a 14-3 victory over host Marist in a Class 8A state semifinal.
Jefferson will have a chance to add to his season total of nine sacks at 7 p.m. Saturday in the 8A championship game against Loyola (10-3), a 24-16 upset winner over Lincoln-Way East.
The title game is a Catholic Blue rematch fromWeek 4 when Brother Rice (13-0) won 35-3.
“It’s great for the Catholic Blue,” Crusaders coach Brian Badke.“Week 4 is a long time ago, and Loyola is a different team now.”
It was the ninth game this season that Brother Rice’s defense allowed three or fewer points.
“This was a total team effort,” Jefferson said. “This is sweet. But it’s back towork (Sunday).”
Quarterback John Bean fired a 13-yard touchdown pass to David O’Keefe with 2:06 left in the first quarter and added a 75-yard TD strike to Anthony Arquilla in the fourth.
Bean completed 12 of 22 passes for 240 yards and rushed for 61 yards. Running back Jessi Plunkett added 76 yards on 20 carries.
While Bean had time to produce big plays for the offense, Jefferson made certain quarterback Mike Markett wasn’t afforded the same luxury. Markett completed 7 of 19 passes for 63 yards forMarist (11-2).
Markett gave credit where creditwas due.
“They were ready for everything we threw at them,” he said. “We missed some opportunities. But they’re a good team and they executed a lot more than us.”
Jefferson flashed a big smile when asked what’s the key to getting to the quarterback.
“It’s all about technique and watching film,” Jefferson said. “I put in a lot of work over the summer. Being prepared and having the experience from last year was a big help, too.”
Badke chalked up Jefferson’s success to a “high motor.”
“Either you have it or you don’t,” Badke said. “Justin never stops.”
Brother Rice stopped to Marist’s ground game, allowing only 14 yards rushing on 18 carries.
Jalen Rheams, Joe Fitzgerald, Zach Wareyko, Jack McMahon, Myles Jones and Jefferson had a great deal to do with that.
Marist also failed to convert on third down on its final nine attempts.
However, it was anyone’s game entering the fourth quarter. Faced with a second-and-14 from their own 25, Bean lofted a pass just beyond midfield.
With a defender close by, the 6-4 Arquilla somehow caught the ball and sped to the end zone to make it 14-3 with 8:55 to go. The Crusaders’ faithfulwent crazy.
“I put my trust in Arquilla,” Bean said. “For him to come up big like that, I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Brother Rice returns to a state championship game for the first time since 1985, whenthe Crusaders lost to East St. Louis in 6A. Rice won the 6A state championship in 1981.
“It’s a great feeling,” Badke said. “But these kids worked hard for this. This is a special group.”
Brother Rice defensive lineman Justin Jefferson sacks Marist quarterback Mike Markett in a Class 8A state semifinal on Saturday.
Brother Rice receiver Anthony Arquilla goes up to make a catch against Marist on Saturday.