By Marty Farmer
Unlike shocking one-point losses to Rockford Boylan and Wheaton North in the Class 7A state playoffs over the last two seasons, the Fenwick football team departed the Chicago Catholic League playoffs in more lopsided fashion.
St. Rita scored five unanswered touchdowns en route to a 35-10 victory over the Friars in Saturday's championship game of the CCL playoffs. St. Rita (11-2) takes on Public League champion Simeon in the Prep Bowl Friday, Nov. 29 (11 a.m.) at Soldier Field. The Wolverines defeated Dunbar 23-14 in the Public League title game.
Fenwick had an outstanding season, highlighted by a 10-3 overall record and CCL White Division title.
Against St. Rita, the Friars led 3-0 midway through the second quarter courtesy of Mike Cahill's 37-yard field goal. In the CCL semifinals on Nov. 16, Cahill nailed a 34-yard field goal as time expired to lift Fenwick past Brother Rice 24-21.
Unfortunately, Cahill's kick represented the Friars' limited offensive production against St. Rita. Fenwick committed four turnovers in the first half including a particularly costly fumble at the Mustangs 15.
While the Friars struggled offensively, St. Rita scored a pair of touchdowns to seize a 14-3 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, the Mustangs put the game away with three touchdowns via a two-yard run by D.J. Miles, quarterback Tommy Mister's 30-yard touchdown pass to Julian Crum, and a 14-yard scamper by the elusive Mister (17 carries, 83 yards).
Fenwick scored its lone touchdown of the game and final one of the season when quarterback Gino Cavalieri threw a 61-yard pass to Rich Schoen. After sitting out the Brother Rice game due to a hamstring injury, Fenwick running back Robert Spillane returned with a strong performance of 133 yards on 19 carries against the Mustangs. Cavalieri completed 10 of 27 passes for 142 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Schoen led the Friars in receiving yards with 75 on four catches, while tight end Ryan Smith had three catches for 16 yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker Jack Rafferty recorded a team-high 11 tackles and Schoen tallied seven tackles. Danny Shannon and Justin Rodriguez had five tackles apiece and Mike Krecek recorded a sack on Mister.
Looking ahead to next season, Fenwick head coach Gene Nudo loses all of his top offensive threats, notably Cavalieri, Spillane, Smith and Schoen. 6-foot-2, 160-pound Sean Moorman will replace Cavalieri at quarterback, while experienced wide receiver Pat Donahue and Cahill return as playmakers. On defense, the Friars' transition into the 2014 season should prove smoother as nose tackle Chris Hawthorne, defensive lineman Harry Bell, defensive back Aaron Garland, Krecek and Rodriguez all return.