CCL/ESCC notes: Vinny Rugai sets two St. Ignatius rushing records against De La Salle

St. Ignatius' Vinny Rugai set the program's career and single-game rushing records against De La Salle on Friday. Photo courtesy Johnny Simoncic

Vinny Rugai faced a challenge from his brother heading into St. Ignatius’ game against De La Salle on Friday. The Wolfpack running back needed 6 rushing yards to set the program’s career-rushing record and Rugai’s brother wanted him to break it on one run.

Rugai not only broke the record on one run, but he did it on an 83-yard run, the longest rush of his career in a game where he also set the program’s single-game rushing record.

“To be able to spend that time with my friends and really soak in the moment, it was very special,” Rugai said.

The senior wanted to set the tone for the game after St. Ignatius lost to Mount Carmel the previous week. Rugai took the ball and saw a big hole to his left created by his offensive line and rushed along the De La Salle sideline. A Meteors player tried to stop the run, but Rugai fought off the tackle to gallop down the sideline to the end zone.

Rugai is now the Wolfpack all-time rushing leader with 2,070 career yards after he finished Friday with 225 rushing yards, beating the previous single-game record by 3 yards.

St. Ignatius coach Matt Miller has been impressed with Rugai ever since he started playing varsity football at the end of his freshman season. Rugai didn’t get too many chances to rush during his sophomore year because of the COVID-19 shortened season, so much of his yards came during his junior and senior seasons.

“It’s great to have him achieve those accomplishments and be recognized for it and be put into the record books because he’s done everything right,” Miller said. “He’s a really good role model for us to have, that if you do the right things and you work really hard, that you can be really successful. It means a lot.”

While Rugai is proud to be a part of St. Ignatius history, he wants to make more history by helping the program win its first state title.

“I had fun celebrating it, but I have to worry about the next three games and then playoffs,” Rugai said. “At the start of the season our goal was to get a state-championship ring and that’s still the goal.”

Loyola gains experience through adversity

Loyola dealt with adversity for the first time this season in its 28-17 win over Marist on Friday.

The Ramblers overcame their first deficit of the season and the starters played their first full game. Loyola coach John Holecek was proud of how his team responded and values the importance of playing in a game like Friday’s.

“Learning how to win, learning how to fight through adversity, learning how to trust your system when things aren’t going well,” Holecek said. “All of those are great learning lessons.”

Loyola won its first five games by an average of 33.6 points, with most starters not playing any longer than three quarters. The Ramblers regrouped from a 7-0 first-quarter deficit to lead 14-7 at halftime and got a big fourth-down sack and two interceptions from the defense late in the game to seal the win.

“This was our first real game, and come Mount Carmel, it’s not going to be a complete blowout, we’re going to have to play a complete game,” Brooks Bahr said. “So we’re lucky we went through this early in the season and now we have to build off of it.”

Mount Carmel makes plays when it matters most

Mount Carmel made plays when it mattered most in its 28-21 win over Brother Rice on Friday.

Quarterback Blainey Dowling rushed in for a 15-yard score to give his team a lead with just under two minutes left in the game and the defense stopped the Crusaders from scoring after reaching the Mount Carmel 27 to earn the win.

“When it mattered for the offense, we got a touchdown, when it mattered for the defense, we got a stop,” Mount Carmel coach Jordan Lynch said. “It was good to see.”

The Caravan faced their first adversity of the season when the offense turned the ball over on its first two possessions and the defense allowed Brother Rice to score on its first possession. The two teams were tied 14-14 at halftime and 21-21 after three quarters before Dowling scored and the defense made its final stops.

Mount Carmel won its first five games by an average of 35.4 points and Lynch was proud of his senior leadership, which brought everyone together to help win the Caravan’s first test of the year.

“It finds out where we are leadership wise for our team,” Lynch said. “Are we going to break, are we going to fold, are we going to stick together and keep chipping away? It showed that this is a really good senior team for us leadership wise and our captains did a good job. They stuck together and kept pushing the team.”

Marist shows progress in loss

Ryan Sims found the positives after Marist’s loss to Loyola on Friday.

The RedHawks gave the Ramblers their first real test of the season after Marist lost to Mount Carmel, 42-7, in Week 4.

“We just battled one of the best teams in the state and that says a lot,” Sims said. “We came back losing 42-7 from the best team in the state to 28-17 against the second-best team in the state. That shows how we’re progressing as a program, as a team.”

Sims thought his team has been communicating and executing better as the season has progressed and the RedHawks will be battle-tested heading into the final stretch of the season and the playoffs.

“As we go on,” Sims said, “we’re just going to keep getting better.”

Brother Rice hoping for steady growth

Brother Rice showed growth in its loss to Mount Carmel on Friday but Crusaders coach Casey Quedenfeld knows his team needs to play near perfect if it wants to take down one of the top teams in the state.

“Our guys did a lot of good things, but at the end of the day, we made too many mistakes,” Quedenfeld said. “You can’t make mistakes against really, really quality football teams and programs.”

Marcus Brown made his first start at quarterback for Brother Rice because of his ability to use his legs when things break down. Brown used his rushing skills to give the Crusaders an early 7-0 lead and to stay tied with Mount Carmel after three quarters. Ryan Hartz came into the game for the last drive after Brown left the game with an injury and drove to the Caravan 27, but couldn’t score to tie the game.

Quedenfeld hopes games like Friday and others tough matchups like Loyola and St. Rita show his team’s steady growth and can lead to strong playoff push given the top teams they’ve faced.

“I think only playing quality opponents helps you,” Quedenfeld said. “Some people say to schedule certain teams to make sure you get your five, a lot of people have said that to me. We’re trying to build a quality football team that you want to not only make the playoffs but try to do some things in the playoffs.”