Fenwick High School football coach Gene Nudo has many warm memories from the time he played at Triton College.
Beginning this fall, Nudo and his players will be making more memories.
Fenwick announced last week that it has inked a 10-year agreement to play all of its home football games at Triton, which recently completed a comprehensive upgrade of its athletic facilities.
The crown jewel of the River Grove school’s renovation is the new football stadium, which will feature a track, lights and seating for about 1,500 fans. Upgraded locker rooms and concession stands are among the amenities the Friars and their fans will enjoy.
“One of the main benefits is we’ll be able to play all of our football games (freshman, sophomore and varsity) at one site,” Fenwick athletic director Scott Thies said. “We’re a priority after Triton and because they don’t have football, we’ll be able to have six Friday night home games this year.
“We’ll be able to create new traditions for our cheerleaders, poms and players.”
Nudo played at Triton in the late 1970s under the late Ed Yonkus. In 1991, he coached Driscoll to victory over Spring Valley Hall in a state semifinal game at Triton. The Highlanders won their first state title the following week.
“That might have been the last football game played at that stadium,” Nudo said.
Triton’s stadium was torn down in the 1990s but has been rebuilt with artificial turf. The community college’s baseball and softball stadiums also have been upgraded.
“It’s really a first-class facility,” Nudo said. “We’re excited.”
Because there is no green space on Fenwick’s landlocked campus, the football team has endured a Harlem Globetrotters-like existence, playing home games at a variety of sites.
The Friars played at Oak Park and River Forest High School Stadium for many years. In recent seasons they have played mostly at Morton West in Berwyn or Concordia University in River Forest, which is across the street from Fenwick’s practice fields at the Priory.
“For so many years we relied on the kindness of other people,” Nudo said. “Even when we played home games, we were taking the bus to the games.
“Home games felt like road games. At Morton West, their facility is very nice but sometimes at the end of games Morton was getting back from a road game. We used the locker room only to put our uniforms on.”
Nudo and Thies believe playing at Triton will increase student attendance at home games, all of which will be played on Friday nights. The Friars open the 2016 season by hosting defending Class 4A state champion Phillips on August 26.
“The kids are thrilled,” Nudo said. “When people know where you’re going to be, it helps. It’s nice to know that we’ve got some stability.”
Fenwick will continue to practice at the Priory, though Nudo plans to hold one practice each week under the lights at Triton.
“It will take one scheduling headache off the table,” Thies said. “We’ve been fortunate to have Morton High School and on occasion Concordia, but we haven’t had a place to call our own. It worked out very well for us.”
The agreement was several years in the making.
“There have been conversations with Triton over the last few years,” Nudo said. “Finally they were able to figure something out.
“It was a lot of stick-to-it-ive-ness on the part of our administration and also on their part. We feel good about the partnership.”
Fenwick will open the season with three consecutive home games, including a Sept. 9 meeting with reigning Class 6A state champion Montini in a Chicago Catholic League Green Division opener.
The Friars will host three 2015 state champions. Class 8A state champion Loyola visits on Sept. 23. The other home games will be against Bowen on Sept. 2, Providence on Oct. 7 and De La Salle in the regular season finale Oct. 21.