In some years, surrendering a game-opening kickoff return would have spelled the beginning of the end for the St. Charles College Cardinals.
Not in 2012.
Trailing the St. Benedict Bears 7-0 after just 15 seconds of play thanks to a 97-yard return from Johnny Pavacic on the curtain-raising boot last Friday, the Cards gradually established their dominance via the ground game and a stiffling defence that did not allow another point.
While it was tough to gauge much from a second half played in a torrential downpour that made each and every snap an adventure, there is no denying that St. Charles looked awfully good in posting a 26-7 win over the defending city champs.
Coach Mike Fabiilli and company wasted little time in righting the ship opposite the Bears, pulling even late in the first quarter as Mitchell Howatt weaved his way to the end zone from six yards out.
The combination of the loss of quarterback Connor Chezzi (broken collarbone) in their season-opening game and the adverse weather conditions ensured that the Cardinals would rely heavily on a time-eating ground attack, which worked well.
Matt Kuzenko followed up a 22-yard run, bulldozing in to the end zone from the two-yard line with less than six minutes to play in the half, with Ian McDonald adding another major from the one. St. Charles led 20-7 as the teams retreated to their dressing rooms.
Kuzenko would add a second touchdown run in the final 30 minutes as the game was plagued by constant fumbles, with game officials struggling mightily to provide even a partially dry football for the snap from center.
Thankfully, the early game on Friday went off without a hitch as the Lo-Ellen Park Knights improved to 3-0, trouncing the Bishop Carter Gators 51-6.
Running back Matt Glass scored three touchdowns for the second time this year, with QB Brady Ellsworth adding a pair on runs of 21 and 19 yards.
Ellsworth also connected with Jonah Blatt (two yards) and Michael Favot (three yards), while defensive back Brady Lavigne returned an interception 18 yards for the final major.
If there is work to be done in the land of the Knights, it may come on the point after attempts as Alex Bertrand made good on only three of eight conversion attempts.
The Gators, meanwhile, recorded their first touchdown of the year, with pivot Anthony Comiso finding Bruce McKee on a 40-yard pass and run play.
Both teams are back in action later this week, with Bishop Carter heading out to Walden to face the Lively Hawks Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m., while Lo-Ellen closes out the week with a dandy, going head-to-head with St. Charles on Friday evening at the James Jerome Sports Complex.