2024 Northwest Herald Male Athlete of the Year: Marian Central’s Christian Bentancur

Marian Central’s Christian Bentancur (right) celebrates his 2,000 point with fans during a nononference boys basketball game against Marengo on Tuesday, Feb.13, 2024, at Marian Central High School.

Marian Central was not a team most opponents would have wanted to see in the Class 2A football playoffs last season.

Not with quarterback Cale McThenia slinging passes to wide receiver Christian Bentancur and others. Bentancur, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound senior, hauled in 92 passes for 1,345 yards and 21 touchdowns.

The Hurricanes finished 4-5, one win short of being playoff eligible. Bentancur finished his outstanding career with 231 receptions, fifth on the IHSA all-time list, then went out and scored 589 points in the basketball season, giving him 2,049 for his career.

Bentancur, who recently left for Clemson where he will play tight end, achieved a rarity when he was selected All-Area first team in football and basketball. Bentancur is the 2024 Northwest Herald Male Athlete of the Year, selected by the sports staff. He is the first Hurricane to win since Joe Rockers in 1997.

Local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Rochell will donate $2,500 to Marian Central in Bentancur’s name through the Rochell Foundation. Rochell has made that donation to the athletic departments for the Female and Male Athletes of the Year every year since 1993.

Bentancur did something no other Illinois athlete ever has by catching 231 passes in football and scoring more than 2,000 points in basketball. Among area boys basketball players, Johnsburg’s Zach Toussaint (2018, 2,249 points) and Crown’s Gary Gliesmann (1981, 2,011 points) are the only others to pass 2,000 career points.

Marian Central’s Christian Bentancur takes warm-ups before facing Chicago Hope in varsity football at Woodstock Friday night.

Bentancur was an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 2A All-Stater and the 2023 Northwest Herald Player of the Year. His 54 career touchdown receptions is third in IHSA history, and he was the 11th player to reach 200 career receptions in state history.

Bentancur’s 2,000th career point was made more memorable since it came on an alley-oop dunk off a pass from guard Braedon Todd against Marengo late in the season. He averaged 20.8 points and 12.4 rebounds a game, both of which led the area.

Bentancur, who will be regarded as one of the best athletes ever in the McHenry County area, answered some questions from Northwest Herald sports writer Joe Stevenson about his senior year and career.

2024 Northwest Herald Male Athlete of the Year Voting

Athlete, SchoolSportsPoints
Christian Bentancur, Marian CentralFootball, basketball12
Andy Burburija, Crystal Lake SouthFootball, wrestling7
Kali Freeman, Dundee-CrownFootball, basketball, track and field3
Cayden Parks, Crystal Lake CentralFootball, wrestling2
Scoring: 3 points for first, 2 for second, 1 for third.

What will you remember most about this year?

Bentancur: I will remember graduating and reminiscing about all the memories my friends and I have had through four years.

What is a sport you were just not good at?

Bentancur: Badminton is a sport that, no matter how much I try, I can never seem to figure out.

Which of your teammates was someone who really made you laugh?

Bentancur: Rylan Dolter made me laugh all the time because you never knew what he was going to say, and he had great comedic timing.

What are your three favorite football movies?

Bentancur: “The Blind Side,” “Remember the Titans” and “The Longest Yard.”

If you could have any throwback jersey, in any sport, which would you pick?

Bentancur: The Vince Carter throwback Raptors’ jersey is my favorite ever.

What is something people should know about Clemson coach Dabo Swinney?

Bentancur: Coach Swinney is one coach in college football who has stayed true to himself and truly practices what he preaches.

What is one of your biggest pet peeves?

Bentancur: My worst pet peeve is when people talk during movies. I am trying to hear the movie.

Who is the most famous person you have taken a picture with?

Bentancur: San Francisco defensive end Chase Young when I was at an Ohio State game.

What Clemson alumnus do you most look forward to meeting?

Bentancur: Trevor Lawrence is the Clemson alum I look forward to meeting the most.

What would be your soap opera character name (your real middle name and the street you live on)?

Bentancur: Patrick Margaret.

Marian Central's Christian Bentancur pulls Richmond-Burton's Jack Martens’ helmet off as Martens is tackled by Steven Sarfo and Bentancur during a nonconference football game Friday, Aug. 25, 2023, at Marian Central Catholic High School.

What is the last good book you read?

Bentancur: I read “Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need,” by Grant Sabatier. It really taught the basics of finance, which will be my major.

If you had a sandwich named after you, what would it be called and what would be on it?

Bentancur: It would be called Party Rock and it would be my go-to, which is ham, cheese, salami and mayonnaise.

If you could hop into a time machine, what sporting event would you go see?

Bentancur: I would go back and watch Wilt Chamberlain score 100 points in one game.

What music is on your playlist that would surprise people?

Bentancur: Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Benson Boone, whose music is considered pop rock.

What number will you wear for the Tigers?

Bentancur: 87.

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