CCL/ESCC notes: Fenwick’s lucky break leads to win over St. Francis

Friars hit game-winning field goal after stadium light were off 20 minutes

Fenwick's Marek Hill (left) and Luke D'Alise

Sometimes a team needs a lucky break during a long season and Fenwick struck gold against St. Francis on Friday night.

The Friars had the ball at the Spartans’ 8 with 24 seconds left in the game trailing 16-14 when suddenly the stadium lights turned off. Fenwick used the 20-minute intermission before the lights came back on to reset and work through different scenarios, setting up Noah Sur’s game-winning 25-yard field goal.

“It’s better to be lucky than good sometimes,” Fenwick coach Matt Battaglia said. “That plays a role in these games.”

Fenwick trailed 16-7 before Marek Hill completed a 47-yard touchdown with three minutes left in the game. The Friars forced a defensive stop and got the ball back, driving the ball into the red zone before the lights came off.

Battaglia never experienced anything like Friday’s game but quickly got to work once he found out how much time the teams had before the lights came back on. The Friars treated the break like a halftime, working through a couple scenarios and stretching to be ready for a chance to win the game.

“Having that break allowed them to take a deep breath and focus instead of freaking out,” Battaglia said.

Battaglia was proud of the way his team fought back despite what he considered a mixed performance from the offense. He’s hoping the Friars can get back to playing the way they did in their first three games and the end of Friday.

“It was almost when it looked like our odds were as low as possible that they started reverting back to how we play and what they can do, and we found the success there,” Battaglia said. “So it’s going to be a lot of trying to capture that and how we finish the game, putting that together for a whole week now and get this offense back on track so we’re not in that situation again.”

St. Laurence picks up ‘huge’ win

Adam Nissen saw the growth he’s been waiting to see from St. Laurence in Friday’s 31-24 win over Providence.

The Vikings gave up a touchdown late to tie the game at 24 before St. Laurence drove down the field and won the game with 22 seconds left.

“No one really gave us a shot going into that game,” Nissen said. “We really thrive on those situations when no one gives us a chance and we came out and played our best football game of the year.”

The game-winning drive included a 40-yard pass from quarterback Evan Les to Nick Popp that set up a game-winning touchdown run from Aaron Ball within 10 yards. St. Laurence held a 14-10 lead at the half before the two teams exchanged points until the final seconds.

“It’s better to be lucky than good sometimes. That plays a role in these games.”

—  Matt Battaglia, Fenwick coach

Nissen was proud of how his team battled adversity and what it could mean in tough games heading into the second half of the season.

“It’s huge,” Nissen said. “Historically, in those situations where we give something up, the air will go out of the stadium and it’s truly a testament to our seniors and captains especially that even though a couple times we had some pretty significant adversity we never wavered, the guys stuck together. That’s a true testament to our team, our camaraderie, our cohesion, our brotherhood we’ve established. To see that now the game end up in our favor was huge.”

Loyola’s wide receivers making plays

Loyola junior quarterback Ryan Fitzgerald credited his wide receivers’ play-making abilities to why he’s made his transition to varsity football this season seem so easy.

The Ramblers continued that in Saturday’s 41-24 win over Brother Rice. Nicholas Arogundade led the way with 108 receiving yards while Drew MacPherson had 72 and William Carlson added 42. Fitzgerald threw to five different receivers in the win over the Crusaders.

“They show up and players make big-time plays, they’re big-time players, they make the plays,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re making me look good but they deserve all the credit.”

Caravan’s wake-up call

Mount Carmel’s defense has been on a roll since allowing 33 points to East St. Louis at the beginning of the season.

The Caravan have limited Morgan Park, Niles Notre Dame and St. Rita to 12, zero and seven points, respectively, since topping the Flyers. Morgan Park has averaged 28 points per game while the Dons averaged 13 and St. Rita averaged 25.5.

Junior linebacker Matt Mucha said the team’s win over East St. Louis was the turning point for the defense, playing against one of the top offenses in the nation.

“I think that was our wake-up call,” Mucha said. “We knew that we didn’t play to the best of our abilities, we went to work, we went to practice, we focused on things that we did wrong and corrected them. You see it now.”

Mustangs looks to put offensive pieces together

St. Rita’s offense showed off how potent it could be during its first drive against Mount Carmel on Friday, but coach Martin Hopkins is looking for more consistency from his group four weeks into the season.

“I think we have a lot of good pieces, it’s just about putting it all together now,” Hopkins said. “Some plays we do a good job of blocking inside and then we have a guy who runs the wrong route or misses a read and things like that. It’s about getting everyone on the same page, all 11 guys, that’s what we need to stress moving forward.”

The Mustangs scored on a 69-yard pass from Jett Hilding to Jimmie Maxson III on their first drive but then struggled to move the ball downfield, with Hilding throwing two interceptions.

Hopkins credited Mount Carmel’s defense who has become familiar with St. Rita with three matchups over the last two seasons.

“We know them quite a bit, so it’s interesting playing them because you think you know what they’re going to do every time but you still have to stop them,” Hopkins said. “They do a very good job defensively of running the football and keeping us off schedule, so once we got off schedule, you got to complete those passes to get you back on.”

Early learning lessons for Brother Rice

Brother Rice will finally play at home Friday against St. Viator after starting its season on the road for its first four games. The Crusaders defeated Maine South (10-7) and St. Ignatius (28-6) and lost to Marist (30-24) and Loyola.

All four teams made the playoffs last season, with the Ramblers winning the Class 8A state title, the Wolfpack making the Class 6A semifinals and Maine South playing in the Class 8A quarterfinals. There were plenty of learning lessons in those four games.

“They learn a lot about themselves,” Brother Rice coach Casey Quedenfeld said. “They learn whether it’s leadership, characteristics, attributes, I think they learn about themselves, they learn about their teammates, who put the work in that’s showing it and who maybe didn’t put the work in and is showing it.”

The Crusaders will need to learn quickly. They’ll play Mount Carmel, Nazareth, Montini and St. Rita to end the regular season and they’ll need to play complete games to come out with wins.

“We know that we can battle, it’s just about maintaining discipline and playing three phases of the game,” Quedenfeld said. “You can’t win ever with just playing two.”