By James Kay
After securing their sixth victory of the season on Oct. 18 versus Wheaton Academy (4-4), Riverside-Brookfield's varsity football team is headed for the playoffs.
"To get that opportunity to play in the second season is always going to be a goal of ours," said head RBHS head coach Brendan Curtin. "But playing our best football by the end of the season is one of our top priorities. That's hard to define and you know it when you see it. Every week, we are going to get everyone's best shot and the kids are never flustered. I like where we are at."
Key moment of the game: With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs drained the clock with a 17-play drive that would seal their sixth victory. They didn't score but they forced Wheaton to use all of its timeouts. The Warriors stopped the Bulldogs in the red zone but had too far to go to generate a late-game scoring drive and turned the ball over on the last play of the game, allowing the Bulldogs to win 20-17.
"We knew it was going to be a tight game," said Curtin. "This is a team that we thought we shared a lot of similarities with to some degree and we went out and beat them in a game that went back and forth."
Curtin continues success as HC: After RBHS recorded its sixth win of the season, this marks the fifth time that Curtin has coached his team to the playoffs (he took over as the Bulldogs head coach in 2012). He now has six or more wins in five of his last six seasons.
Friars notch fifth win
Fenwick stampeded its way to its fifth win of the season when they beat Leo High School 49-12. The Friars scored 42 of their points against Leo (3-5) in the first half before the starters rested.
Fenwick's head coach, Gene Nudo, knows there's still a lot of work ahead for his team.
"I think we are playing more consistently than we were at the beginning of the season," said Nudo. "We are a young team and at this point in the season we are making less mistakes than a younger team typically makes. We've protected the ball better the last couple of weeks and both sides of the ball played well against Leo."
After struggling to get things going through the air a week ago against St. Patrick, sophomore quarterback Kaden Cobb put on a show with a four-touchdown performance (all coming in the first half), completing 75 percent of his passes on the day.
"[Cobb] was playing freshman football last year," said Nudo. "It's a major learning curve with the game being much faster and your opponents being much bigger and stronger. He's done a great job of getting a grasp of our offense and leading our teach which is difficult for a sophomore."
Season's turning point: Getting to the position to compete in the postseason wasn't a guarantee for this team. After starting off 2-0, the Friars dropped their next three games to some of the elite teams in the state. However, Fenwick (5-3) has been able to bounce back after the loss to Marist on Sept. 27.
"All of us feel like we let the Marist game get away from us," said Nudo. "We were only down four with 3:30 left in the game and were right there. I think the kids have shown they can play with the best teams and I don't think there was a moment where they thought they couldn't play with those teams."