With ten sophomores on the varsity this fall, the Fenwick High School football team was hoping to start the 2019 season on a positive note.
Mission accomplished, as the Friars rolled past Curie 45-14 on Friday at Triton College in River Grove.
“I’m very happy for our kids. They worked really hard all summer and in camp,” Fenwick coach Gene Nudo said. “We have a lot of youth, but it’s talented and [they] did a good job tonight. This is step one.”
On the Friars’ season-opening possession, highly touted sophomore quarterback Kaden Cobb looked like a seasoned veteran, leading the Friars on an 8-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run by junior running back Isaac Novak. Senior kicker Bryan Dowd booted the first of his four extra points for a 7-0 lead at the 8:04 mark of the first quarter.
After forcing Curie to a quick three-and-out, the Friars marched down the field in less than three minutes, capping another 8-play drive (73 yards) with a 15-yard TD pass from Cobb (9-for-20, 94 yards) to sophomore wide receiver Eian Pugh (3 catches, 39 yards) in the left corner of the end zone. However, the PAT failed due to a bad snap, leaving the score 13-0 in favor of Fenwick at the 3:59 mark.
Fenwick junior linebacker Declan Donnelly intercepted a pass by Curie quarterback Damarius Johns on the next drive, setting up the Friars in excellent field position at the Condors’ 17-yard line.
It took the offense just four plays to cash in with Novak doing the honors with his second TD run, this one from 2 yards out. Cobb then connected with Pugh for the two-point conversion to raise the score to 21-0 Friars at the 2:01 mark.
On Curie’s first play of the next drive, Johns fumbled the handoff attempt and the ball was recovered by Fenwick senior defensive lineman William O’Brien at the Condors’ 20. After three consecutive incomplete passes, the Friars had to settle for Dowd’s 37-yard field goal and a 24-0 lead after at the end of the first quarter.
It took less than two minutes into the second quarter for the Friars to find the end zone again. Gifted great field position at the Curie 29 thanks to a fair-catch interference penalty on a punt, the offense found the house in four plays, culminating in sophomore running back Danny Kent’s 16-yard TD dash. Dowd’s PAT made it 31-0 Friars which concluded the lopsided first-half scoring.
“Our running backs are doing a heck of a job,” Nudo said. “Isaac had a great night, as did Danny and Jacque Walls. At fullback, Kevin Frazier had a couple of nice runs and did a lot of the dirty work blocking, so did Parker Devlin. All of our backs did a great job.”
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the second half. Curie running back Steven Cheek scored on a pair of runs (6 and 2 yards, respectively), while Nick Polston’s 5-yard pass to Novak and Kent’s 10-yard run accounted for the Friars’ scores.
Fenwick finished with 364 yards in total offense, including 265 on the ground. Novak (12 rushes, 92 yards, 3 TDs) and Kent (10 rushes, 106 yards, 2 TDs) turned in stellar performances thanks to a strong effort from the offensive line, led by senior Sean Carpenter.
“The line did really good,” Carpenter said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and they were moving people. It’s so nice not to have to worry about them; they worked so hard over the summer. I’m happy with their effort. This win gives me a lot of hope and I’ve got a lot of faith in our team.”
“I could not be happier with Kaden, especially with his ability to trust us,” Carpenter added of Cobb’s performance. “It’s nice to have a quarterback that’s willing to sit there and trust that we can block for him and allow him to get the pass off when he needs to. Patience is not easy to get in a QB, but Kaden has it. I’m proud of him.”
Nudo was also pleased with Cobb’s debut.
“I thought Kaden did some very good things,” he said. “We threw an awful lot at him [this summer] and we’re not tempering things. I want to see him get better in the execution of the little things like footwork stuff, but nothing you wouldn’t expect from a sophomore. He can sling it pretty good and sees the field as good as anybody.
“The touchdown pass, the play was supposed to be an out pattern, but he read the defense and made the adjustment. There was never any doubt in his mind when he threw it.”
Defensively, linebackers Bryce Legan (11 tackles) and Danny Farnan (9 tackles) led the way for the Friars. O’Brien and sophomore defensive lineman Quin Wieties notched sacks, and senior safety Greyson Cone had two pass defenses.
“It was very important [to win],” senior LB/S Tom Dvorak said. “It definitely gives us a lot of confidence, especially for the young guys getting some experience. Everyone played well, it’s not what people expected out of us, but I expected it.”
Fenwick’s next game will be Friday, Sept. 6 when the Friars will host Dunbar. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Triton.
Dvorak hopes for an even better game against the Mightymen.
“We’ve got to improve in the pass game (as a defense),” Dvorak said. “We can always improve as a team, and as long as we’re improving, we’re only going to get better. We’re ready for everyone.”