Opener doesn't go as planned for Bendoraitis
CHARLESTON — Charleston looked like a team that made the Class 4A semifinals last year.
Rantoul? Well, the Eagles — fresh off a 1-8 season last year — struggled.
In Joe Bendoraitis' first game as Rantoul's new head coach, Rantoul suffered a 49-6 loss at Trojan Hill on Friday night. Charleston built a 42-0 lead at halftime thanks to a 28-point second quarter and dominating offensive performances by senior quarterback Sean Hussey and junior running back Josh Cazley.
"You match up athlete to athlete, Charleston doesn't have anything on us," Bendoraitis said. "But you match up teamwork and being a football player .... I'm sure their summer program compared to ours was a lot different, and it reflected on the field."
Hussey threw four first-half touchdowns and finished 7 of 8 for 186 yards, all in the first half.
"We've got to improve across the board," Bendoraitis said. "We didn't do anything real well as far as offense, defense or special teams."
Rantoul scored its lone touchdown with 7:46 left in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run by junior Javen Cobb.
Senior fullback Larry Crayton led the Eagles with 84 yards on 14 carries for an Eagles offense that totaled 161 yards. Charleston finished with 531 yards, with 398 coming in the first half.
"On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at practice, everyone wants to play around," Crayton said. "When it comes Friday, this is what happens. You play like you practice. We've just got to go in and watch film on Saturday, pick up our mistakes and try to restore a good name for Rantoul football. It's going to be hard."
The Eagles also were dealt a tough blow when senior defensive back Cord Church went down on the fourth play of the game. Bendoraitis said Church — a likely starter for the Eagles' boys' basketball team and an all-conference baseball player — broke his right wrist and is likely done for the season.