Marist grad­u­ate NicWeishar jug­gling ND foot­ball, fam­ily char­ity

Jef­fer­son leads dom­i­nant ef­fort as the Cru­saders stopMarist

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pat Dis­abato pdis­[email protected] Twit­ter @dis­abato

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.”

GARY MIDDENDORF/DAILY SOUTH­TOWN PHO­TOS

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.

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