By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
The Benedictine football team is ready to begin the start of a new era. Again.
The Ravens open their 2021 season at William Penn on Saturday at 6 p.m. Picked to finish second in the Heart of America Athletic Conference's south division, and with a preseason ranking of No. 17, new head coach Joel Osborn is excited to embark on his first, full season in his new role.
"We understand expectations are high," Osborn said. "We're the one who set those expectations. We have high goals. We know that we can't control everything. We control our attitude and our effort and how we work and we'll just let the chips fall where they may. We'll just prepare every day to be the best we can."
Osborn coached his first game at Benedictine back on April 10, where the Ravens beat Hastings College (Nebraska), 48-0. While the Ravens did not end up making the postponed NAIA playoffs, Osborn was proud to start off his tenure with such a big victory.
"For me personally, it was a lot of fun to get a coach a football game," Osborn said. "I mean, I hadn't coached one for the whole 2020 season. So, that was a unique opportunity and it was a blessing and looking back, you look at your first career win and it's in April. I don't know of many coaches where that's happened before."
Osborn was hired by Benedictine in January after spending 10 years as a tight ends/running backs coach at Northwest Missouri State. He succeeds 42-year veteran head coach Larry Wilcox, who announced his retirement last November and fully stepped away in June.
Osborn watched with his sons Jack, Colin and Isaac, as Wilcox accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation this past summer.
The biggest surprise since Wilcox's departure, Osborn says, is seeing all of the things the former head coach did behind the scenes and had done while he wasn't coaching games.
"He's done a tremendous job here in his career," Osborn said of his predecessor. "You know, he took a lot of pride in this place and he's the one who set the standard. So, now that he's been done, you see all of the things that he's done behind the scenes."
From an on-the-field standpoint, Osborn has been especially pleased with what he's seen from his defense and special teams. Offensively, his team racked up 494 yards against Hastings.
Benedictine has two senior quarterbacks in Garrett Kettle and Luke Laskowski and a large class of more than 40 other seniors who bring back lots of starting experience on both sides.
Osborn learned from some sharp offensive minds at Northwest and wants to "attack the gaps" and be aggressive at Benedictine. He also stresses the need to be physical, and to play sound, smart football in all three phases.
"We're going to be physical," Osborn said. "We're going to be able to run the ball. We're going to be able to stop the run and play great on special teams. I really want our kids to go out there and play with an edge, but do things the right way and play from whistle to whistle."
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