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CCL/ESCC Notes: St. Rita RB Kaleb Brown set to return

St. Rita's Kaleb Brown runs the ball while Sterling's Tyree Kelly attempts a tackle during the third quarter of the game. Brown put up 245 yards on 24 carries for a decisive 32-0 victory over the Warriors.

St. Rita players and coaches aren’t only feeling good because of their first-round Class 7A win over Rolling Meadows on Friday.

The Mustangs are also getting their best player back.

Coach Todd Kuska expects Kaleb Brown to be ready to play against Geneva on Friday night. The Ohio State commit was dressed against Rolling Meadows, but because of the constant rain and early lead, Kuska decided he wanted to be safe and wait a week before Brown made his return.

“We want to make sure that he’s healthy,” Kuska said. “Everybody’s hurt, but not everybody is injured. We’re trying to do our best to make sure that he’s 100 percent. He was dressed and ready to go out there, but I just looked at it, you know what, let’s see how it develops here. It was raining and slippery. I just wanted better conditions for him to make his return to the field. He should be ready to roll.”

The Mustangs have been without their star player since the opening minutes of the season, when Brown suffered a leg injury against Mount Carmel. Brown earned an invitation to the All-American Bowl, which will be held in January.

St. Rita (8-2) lost the opener to the Caravan and suffered its second loss against Loyola two weeks later, but the team has regrouped to win seven straight games. The Mustangs are looking forward to traveling to Geneva for a fun environment.

“It’s exciting,” Kuska said. “The state playoffs are always an exciting time, playing a team we’ve never played before. Going on the road, I think our guys like that mentality, going on the road into a hostile environment.”

Somber historic night

St. Ignatius players and coaches weren’t celebrating despite making history on Friday night.

There weren’t hugs or jumping despite the fact the program won its first playoff game in program history with its 42-7 win over Bremen.

After a poor start and bad weather, the Wolfpack players weren’t satisfied with how the game went.

“I don’t think that anybody was too happy with our performance,” St. Ignatius coach Matt Miller said. “We have high aspirations. I tried to get everyone not to be down, but it was more of a somber mood even though we just made history.”

The weather made for a different experience compared to the team’s game against Fenwick the previous week. St. Ignatius had its largest crowd at Fornelli Field with a division title on the line. On Friday, there were few fans in the stands with consistent rain throughout the game.

The Wolfpack didn’t come out strong against a team they saw during the regular season. St. Ignatius took a 14-7 lead just before halftime and took control of the game in the second half.

While the players and coaches might look back on Friday one day as a special day, for the time being, they’re focused on reaching their ultimate goal: a state championship.

“It’s a good thing because guys expect more,” Miller said. “One game isn’t enough. Everyone intends and hopes to keep on playing. I think it’s something that we’ll look back on that it was cool that we won the first one, but I think for the time being, everyone’s in the moment of we need to keep going and we maybe didn’t play our best.”

Perfect start

The CCL/ESCC had a perfect beginning to the postseason.

All 11 teams that qualified for the playoffs won their opening-round games. Five teams won their games by at least 42 points and eight teams won by at least 35 points. The closest game came from Brother Rice, which won 27-26 against Wheaton Warrenville South after the Crusaders stopped a last-second two-point conversion.

Four CCL/ESCC teams shut out their opponents.

Offers keep rolling in

Jimmy Rolder mania has hit the southern portion of the country.

The Marist linebacker continued his flurry of scholarship offers last week when Florida offered him on Wednesday, Oct. 27, and LSU offered Rolder a scholarship Monday.

Rolder now has 11 offers after not having an offer Oct. 8. Including the two SEC schools, he’ll also consider Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota, TCU and Cincinnati.