2019 record: 6-5, Class 5A second round
Coach: Matt Battaglia (first season)
Worth noting: Fenwick has a deep list of returning starters. The Friars have four juniors, class 2022, ranked among the top 25 recruits in Illinois, according to 247Sports.com. QB Kaden Cobb is a dual threat with offers from Vanderbilt, West Virginia and much of the Mid-American Conference. WR Eian Pugh is committed to Cincinnati. WR Max Reese has offers from Arizona State and Kansas, among others. OL Jimmy Liston holds offers from Ole Miss, Penn State, Texas Tech and Arizona State, among others. Senior RB Isaac Novak and junior RB Danny Kent will spearhead the run game. OL/DL Rasheed Anderson, OL/DL Cullen McTigue are returning starters on the interior, along with Liston. LB Declan Donnelly, DB Nick Polston and DE Quin Wieties will provide experience for the defense. Fenwick introduced Battaglia as head coach back on Dec. 9, 2019. The Marist grad finally will coach his first game after the extended layoff.
2019 record: 8-4, Class 5A quarterfinals
Coach: Jake Jaworski (21-14)
Worth noting: Joliet Catholic will try to defend its White Division title from 2019. The Hilltoppers went 3-0 in division games last season. A friendly rivalry is brewing in the secondary between DB Jabril Williams, who is committed to Army, and DB Devean Washington, who is committed to Navy. RB Jordan Anderson was the leading rusher in 2019. He holds a handful of offers from MAC schools. Junior QB Aidan Voss gained varsity experience as a sophomore last season. He returns to the starting quarterback role. The Hilltoppers’ defense is deep, with the aforementioned Williams and Washington as returning starters, as well as DE/TE Pat Strocchia, OL/DL Will Berry, LB Anthony Kasper, LB Michael Rouse and LB Robby Purchase. DB Patrick Duffy and DB Malachi Hood are varsity newcomers to watch. Along with Berry, OL Jaden Lacy and OL Josh Jones hope to create a push in the trenches. WR Josh Ehrsam, RB Ja’Arie Mack and K Jake Dixon also are returning starters.
2019 record: 7-4, Class 5A second round
Coach: Dan Thorpe (33rd season)
Worth noting: QB Paddy Fitzgerald brings experience to the position. WR/DB Jackson Burroughs and WR/DB Dane Pardridge will be two of his top targets. OT/DT Matt Harris (6-4, 320) is the only returning starter on the offensive line. Thorpe isn’t too worried, however, because the Cadets have a deep crop of newcomers competing for starting spots on the line. C/DT Jerred Durian (6-3, 310) is another big body to watch. He was all-conference as a defensive tackle in 2019. FB/LB Anthony Saltijeral brings experience to the fullback position. RB/LB Max Lambert, G/LB Luke Childers and FB/LB Jacob Bottarini all are returning starters at linebacker. RB/DB Jack Scales returns to the secondary. Thorpe believes this defense has the potential to be very good. On the flip side, Scales and Lambert – who were both all-conference defenders – may have to go both ways, so finding some depth at running back will be key.
2019 record: 5-5, Class 6A first round
Coach: Matt Miller (fourth season)
Worth noting: Overall, this is a young team for the Wolfpack, about half the varsity roster is made up of sophomores. It returns a handful of starters on both sides of the ball, including QB/DB Leo Rugai, RB/CB EJ Talarico, FB/LB Cam Roberson, WR/S Evan Stuart and OL/DL Damian Lassak. FB/LB Vinny Rugai [Leo’s brother] and FB/LB John Kemp are sophomores to keep an eye on in St. Ignatius’ triple-option offense. Sophomore OL/DL Emmet Rhoades and OL/DL Jake Rothgery should contribute in the trenches on both sides of the ball. St. Ignatius has a run of five consecutive playoff appearances going dating back to the 2015 season.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Kaden Cobb, Fenwick, QB, jr.: Cobb is a dual-threat QB with Division I college scholarship offers from about a dozen schools.
- Jimmy Liston, Fenwick, OL, jr.: Liston (6-4, 295) is ranked by 247Sports.com as the No. 4 overall center in the class of 2022.
- Jordan Anderson, Joliet Catholic, RB, jr.: Anderson was the Hilltoppers’ leading rusher in 2019. He holds a handful of Division I offers.
- Jabril Williams, Joliet Catholic, DB, sr.: An Army commit, Williams has experience at cornerback and safety.
- Jack Scales, Marmion, RB/DB, sr.: Scales was all-conference as a defensive back in 2019, and could play both ways this season. He will play at Division II University of Sioux Falls.
|Fenwick||Joliet Catholic||Marmion||St. Ignatius|
|Week 1||vs. Nazareth; 7:30 p.m. March 19||at St. Laurence; 7:30 p.m. March 19||vs. De La Salle; 7:30 p.m. March 19||vs. Benet; 7:30 p.m. March 19|
|Week 2||vs. Joliet Catholic; 7:30 p.m. March 26||at Fenwick; 7:30 p.m. March 26||at St. Ignatius; 7:30 p.m. March 26||vs. Marmion; 7:30 p.m. March 26|
|Week 3||at Marmion; 12:30 p.m. April 3||vs. St. Ignatius; 7:30 p.m. April 1||vs. Fenwick; 12:30 p.m. April 3||at Joliet Catholic; 7:30 p.m. April 1|
|Week 4||at St. Patrick; 7:30 p.m. April 9||at Carmel; 6 p.m. April 9||at St. Viator; 7 p.m. April 9||at Marian Central; 7:30 p.m. April 9|
|Week 5||vs. Leo; 7:30 p.m. April 16||vs. DePaul; 7:30 p.m. April 16||vs. Hope Academy; 7:30 p.m. April 16||vs. Marian Catholic; 7:30 p.m. April 16|
|Week 6||vs. St. Ignatius; 7:30 p.m. April 23||vs. Marmion; 7:30 p.m. April 23||at Joliet Catholic; 7:30 p.m. April 23||at Fenwick; 7:30 p.m. April 23|
FIVE CAN’T-MISS MATCHUPS
Week 1 – Nazareth at Fenwick: A quality CCL/ESCC crossover game to kick off the season.
Week 1 – Joliet Catholic at St. Laurence: Another fun crossover game. Joliet Catholic won, 34-33, in this game last season.
Week 2 – Joliet Catholic at Fenwick: This huge White division game comes early in the season.
Week 3 – Fenwick at Marmion: Two tough games back-to-back for Fenwick. The Friars beat Marmion, 31-26, in 2019.
Week 6 – Marmion at Joliet Catholic: The division could be on the line in Week 6.
STEVE SOUCIE’S PREDICTED FINISH