At the beginning of the season, the Lake Catholic football team promised smashmouth football.
The players and Head Coach Mike Bell said people should be ready for the Cougars to crash the line, shove the other team back four yards and, once the ball settles, for them to do it again.
It would not be beautiful but it would be football.
In other words, the Benedictine Bengals can't say they weren't warned.
The Cougars (4-3) didn't do anything flashy Saturday against Benedictine. Instead, they leaned on their twin pillars of defense and recently returned quarterback Mark Baniewicz.
Baniewicz missed the last three games with an MCL strain and there was no easing him back. He ran the ball 41 times against the Bengals -- a school record.
Those runs accounted for 187 of Lake Catholic's 246 offensive yards.
"That’s the way I wanted to do it was to jump back in and do whatever I could to help the team," Baniewicz told Varsity Chalk Talk. "Losing those three games early makes every game like a playoff game for us now."
He scored the game's only points of the first half with a 1-yard run in the second quarter. In fact, that touchdown stood as the only points of the game until the Cougars' running back/defensive end/University of Toledo John Stepec recruit crashed the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown run with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Stepec accrued 42 yards on 10 runs.
Those two touchdowns were all the Cougars needed as their defense held strong -- shutting out an opponent for the first time since week three of the 2011 season, according to The News-Herald.
They limited the Bengals (3-4) to 39 yards on 30 plays and only allowed Benedictine to convert a single third-down conversion.
The Cougars used their running game and increasingly stingy defense to control the clock. Lake Catholic controlled the ball for 35 minutes to Benedictine's 13.
"Defense is number one for us," Lake coach Mike Bell told The News-Herald. "That's where we want to be great. We want to be great in all three phases, but we want to be the greatest on defense."
Lake Catholic has climbed above .500 after starting the season 1-3.
"Right now we can only control what we do and the focus has to remain on us,” Bell told Varsity Chalk Talk of the team’s playoff chances in Division III. "We just have to keep working to get better as a team."
The Cougars play Padua next week in Mentor.