If timing is everything, then the Fenwick football team lacked just enough of it to fall to Brother Rice during a season ending 17-7 loss at Hoffman Stadium in Berwyn on Saturday afternoon. With a Prep Bowl appearance and a return trip to Soldier Field on the line (Fenwick defeated Simeon there 37-28 earlier in the season), the Friars played out of sync after a three-week hiatus necessitated by an opening round Class 6A playoff loss to Hubbard.
“We played hard, but maybe our timing was off a little bit,” said Fenwick coach Joe DiCanio. “We had a hard time moving the football and could not sustain any drives, especially after the first quarter.”
On their first play from scrimmage, The Friars (6-5) actually appeared more than ready to exact revenge for an earlier controversial loss to Brother Rice this season, when Dan Walsh lofted a 59-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option play to a wide open Newman Delany (7 catches, 97 yards) for a 7-0 lead. Although the Friars produced 13 first downs for the game, the offense essentially stalled after their opening play with an ineffective running game. Dan Mega and quarterback Brien Rooney rushed a combined 22 times for 60 yards. Rooney, uncharacteristically, also threw five interceptions.
Defensively, Fenwick cornerback Nick Caldicott was all over the field with three interceptions.
As for the Crusaders, Brendan Sheehy (22 carries, 100 yards) capped off a nine-play, 54-yard drive with a 8-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7 at the 4:04 mark of the second quarter.
The Crusaders (8-5), advancing to their third consecutive Prep Bowl title game, dominated the line of scrimmage the rest of the way and scored 10 unanswered points in the second half en route to their 17-7 victory.
“We expected to come in and win, but things didn’t go our way,” said Fenwick strong safety Jack Finan, who wore the same jersey number 9 as his father, Marty, a former Fenwick football star. “I don’t have any regrets. These guys are my best friends and I’d give anything to play another game with them.”
Despite the disappointing loss to Brother Rice, the Friars enjoyed a remarkable season. Fenwick raced out to a 6-2 start and gained top 10 recognition in both major Chicago newspapers. The Friars, who averaged 24 points per game and had three shutouts defensively, outscored their opponents 265-175 for the season. Of their six wins, the Friars’ signature win was a 19-17 win against Class 7A finalist St. Rita.
“This team accomplished more than a lot of people thought they would,” DiCanio said. “They played and prepared as hard as you can and did some good things this season.”