The Fenwick High School football team changed up practice a bit this week. It paid off during the Friars’ 41-0 rout of visiting Bowen Friday night at Hoffman Stadium on the Morton West campus.
“We had an interesting week,” Fenwick coach Gene Nudo said. “We spent one day where we had the offensive guys take a defensive drill and the defensive guys take an offensive drill. Obviously, the defensive backs learned a lot from their wide receiver drills because they caught the ball pretty well tonight. Normally you put DBs at their position because they can’t catch.”
The Friars certainly showed sure hands defensively against Bowen
After junior quarterback Jacob Keller threw a slant pass to Conner Lillig for a 54-yard touchdown pass on the Friars’ second play from scrimmage, seniors Brian Doyle and Patrick Rafferty each returned an interception for a touchdown, 53 and 25 yards respectively, to propel the Friars to a 21-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Fenwick (1-1) struck again at 11:13 of the second quarter when senior running back Will Lattner raced 66 yards for a score on a beautiful cutback run, extending the advantage to 28-0. Keller tossed a delayed screen pass to Lattner for a 39-yard touchdown with 5:33 left until halftime to make the score 35-0.
Reserve quarterback Gavin Graves, also the Friars’ starting fullback, lofted a 9-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Masterson into the right corner of the end zone at 5:05 of the third quarter to close out the scoring and start a running clock.
In reality, the Boilermakers appeared to be running out of time much earlier.
Despite the lopsided victory however, Nudo is well aware that the Friars are far from a finished product.
“We’re happy with the win but we have a long way to go,” he said. “We have a lot of room for improvement.”
Lattner led the Friars with four carries for 73 yards, one reception for 39 yards and two touchdowns. Fenwick rushed 17 times for 109 yards and caught seven passes for 159 yards.
Keller completed 6 of 10 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns to secure his first varsity win under center. While the 6-3, 190-pound junior has size, speed and athleticism, life at the varsity level has been an adjustment for the promising signal caller.
“It’s a lot of faster and more physical [at the varsity level] but I’m getting used to everything,” Keller said. “We were pretty upset about how we lost to Phillips [40-16 in Week 1] so we had a good week of practice. We were just focused on winning this game.”
Junior defensive lineman Ellis Taylor, from Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park, led Fenwick with nine tackles while senior linebacker Patrick Kenny had eight tackles. Brett Moorman, Ryan Chapman, Joe Garibotti, Adrian Norse and Matt Zuziak, among others, contributed to the Friars’ swarming defense which held Bowen in check virtually the entire game.
“Whenever our defense can some points on the board like tonight, it’s a huge benefit and takes some pressure off the offense,” Moorman said. “Last week we started a little slow, but tonight we were really focused from the get go. I think we played a lot better and really together as a team.
“We have a lot of young guys on defense, but I like how things are coming along. Even though a lot of these guys are playing their first couple games on the varsity level they’re learning fast.”
After splitting a pair of non-conference games against Phillips and Bowen, Fenwick takes on host De La Salle, a familiar Chicago Catholic League rival, on Friday, Sept. 11. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
“Beating Bowen was a big win for us,” said junior wide receiver Sherman Martin. “Now it’s on to De La Salle and we have to get that win as well.”