RIVERSIDE – As part of the talented St. Francis receiving corps, junior wide receiver Tyler Bishop feels a special connection with standout senior quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse.
Theirs especially is strong. It dates back to their grade-school days one year apart playing with the Tri-City Chargers.
“No doubt Tommy’s the best quarterback in the state, this year and last year. I don’t care what anybody says,” Bishop said.
“Our offense is really electric, probably one of the best in the state, if not the best. We have four insane receivers and if you can line up four (defensive backs) against us, then good luck.”
On Friday, Bishop was a big contributor to one of Rittenhouse’s biggest passing days by catching three of Rittenhouse’s single-game best six TD passes in theSpartans’ 58-7 victory at Riverside-Brookfield in Metro Suburban Conference Blue action.
St. Francis (4-0, 4-0 in MSC Blue) scored TDs on each of its first nine possessions. The Illinois State-bound Rittehouse, who was 15 for 26 for 250 yards, surpassed his five TD passes last season against Bishop McNamara.
“Once I got the sixth one, it kind of hit me I had six. I didn’t realize until the last one,” Rittenhouse said.
After transfer Adam Criter had the first TD catch of 28 yards, Bishop had the next three of 12, 7 and 11 yards. Terreon Roundy scored St. Francis’ third TD with a 12-yard run.
Jackson Gerard then had a 48-yard TD reception for a 40-7 halftime lead and then the first score of the third quarter on a 20-yard receptions. Dashiell Dorsey had the last on a 27-yard TD catch in the third quarter. Michael D’Orazio added a 4-yard TD run.
Rittenhouse was pivotal in continuing his connection with Bishop through high school.
“He was going to go to Geneva High School. His eighth-grade year, my freshman year at Francis, I was like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to come over,” Rittenhouse said.
Perhaps the biggest catch by Bishop came on the Spartans’ first possession. Facing fourth-and-12 at their 38, the Spartans went for it. Bishop made a great leaping catch at the Bulldogs’ 33.
“I have confidence in our offense. I have confidence in Tommy and our play calling and what he can do with his arms and his legs,” St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. “We just went out and took a chance. We figured our defense was doing a good job early and we wanted to try and go for it.”
For the season, Rittenhouse has 14 TD passes among six receivers. Bishop, who had five TD catches as a sophomore, and Dorsey now have a team-best four TDs.
“It’s ridiculous. This is one of the most talented receiver groups I’ve had in forever,” Rittenhouse said. “I try to spread the ball out as much as I can, try to get these guys touches and everyone contributes. I trust these guys.”
“At the end of the day, I think all of us are unselfish enough. If we just come out and dominate like we did tonight, I don’t think anybody cares who scores the touchdowns,” Bishop said.
This was the home opener for the Bulldogs (1-3, 1-2), who were coming off a 60-0 victory over Ridgewood. After four straight four-and-out possessions to start, they mounted a 67-yard TD drive with Luke Swiatek scoring on a 4-yard third-and-goal pass from quarterback Owen Murphy.
It was the first time the Spartans were scored upon in any of the first three quarters this season. They previously allowed just fourth-quarter points after their huge 28-0 season-opening statement victory over IC Catholic Prep.
Tyler Duzansky had a sack and several quarterback hurries. Elijah Lee’s interception return to the 15 set up the Spartans’ second touchdown.
“It’s OK. We’ve got to give up a score sometime,” McMillen said. “I’m happy that our guys understand that, came back from that adversity and held them the rest of the game.”