FENWICK 14 14 7 0 35
DeLaSALLE 7 0 0 12 19

Lightning struck twice for the Fenwick football team during the Friars’ 35-19 Homecoming victory over De La Salle on Saturday afternoon at Morton Stadium.

The meteorological signs of lightning came at the 9:39 mark of the first quarter due to inclement weather calling for a 50-minute stoppage of play. Trailing De La Salle 7-0 and sitting through heavy rain, hail, and a dose of introspection, the reinvigorated Friars figuratively created the second lightning strike, courtesy of their electric offense. The Friars reeled off 28 points in a span of 17 minutes during the first half.

Wearing black t-shirts under their jerseys that read, “Pride and Pursuit,” the Friars (5-1, 2-1 Catholic League Blue) exhibited the former and accomplished the latter by qualifying for the state playoffs. It was a sweet victory for Fenwick and head coach Joe DiCanio, who also wanted to clear the air about last week’s tough 19-17 loss at Brother Rice. “After that game, I made some derogatory comments about the officials’ calls right after a very difficult, frustrating loss,” DiCanio said. “I would like to apologize to Bill Hellmer [Catholic League officials assignments chairperson] for those comments. It’s truly an honor to be a part of the Catholic League Blue, and to qualify for the playoffs coming out of this conference is incredible.”

Brien Rooney (11-of-19, 276 passing yards), who has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the Chicagoland area, spearheaded the offensive onslaught against De La Salle with a 12-yard touchdown run to put the Friars on the board with 2:56 left in the first quarter. Apparently, Rooney and his fellow Friars were just warming up as the strong armed quarterback completed touchdown passes to Austin Gordon (57 yards), Nick Caldicott (13 yards) and Newman Delany (48 yards) to push Fenwick to a comfortable 28-7 halftime lead.

“During the weather delay, it was important for us to stay calm,” Rooney said. “All our receivers were great and you have to give credit to the offensive line. It’s fun having all these guys out there.”

The Friars, ranked No. 10 in last week’s Chicago Sun-Times football poll, amassed 17 first downs as Rooney threw passes to eight receivers, notably Gordon (2 catches, 85 yards) and Colin Tobin (4 catches, 26 yards). Dan Mega paced the ground game with 106 yards rushing off 14 carries.

Offensively, De La Salle struggled with only two first downs in the first half.

Tobin capped off the Friars’ prolific offensive display with a 21-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to make it a 35-7 score. With a big lead, DiCanio played many of his reserves.

To the Meteors’ credit, they scored twice in the final 10 minutes on touchdown runs by Cordero Gaston and Brandon Lewis.

“This was a make or break game for us,” said Fenwick strong safety Jack Finan. “We’re really happy to be in the playoffs. I think we have surprised a lot of people. It’s great for the alumni and for the school.”

Fenwick travels to New Lenox this Friday for a 7:30 p.m. conference game against Providence. The Celtics, who have won an amazing nine state championships over the last 18 years, have a 2-4 record under first-year head coach Mike Coglianese. The Celtics defeated Bishop McNamara 21-13 last week.

“Some people say they are struggling, but they play probably the toughest schedule around,” DiCanio said. “Providence is Providence and we’re anticipating a huge challenge.”

Conference standings CATHOLIC (BLUE)

Mount Carmel 3-0 6-0
St. Rita 3-1 5-1
Fenwick 2-1 5-1
Loyola Acedemy 2-1 5-1
Brother Rice 2-2 4-2
Providence 0-3 2-4
De La Salle 0-4 2-4