The Fenwick football team played well into November last year, advancing to the 5A State quarterfinals and finishing with an impressive 10-3 overall record, but Joe DiCanio wasn't that impressed with the results from his inaugural season as the team's head coach.
"While we were certainly a good, competitive football team last year, the numbers kind of make us look better than we were," he said. "We lost badly in the playoffs to Joliet Catholic, and we also lost in the Prep Bowl playoffs to Brother Rice, two teams we really need to be competitive with."
This season, DiCanio and the Friars will have all the competition they can handle now that the program has been shifted from the Catholic League White Division to the Blue Division, where powerhouses Mt. Carmel, Brother Rice and Providence reside. Out of the six teams in the division, five advanced to the State playoffs last season.
"There's no question we'll have our work cut out for us this year," admitted DiCanio. "The focus is to take one game at a time. We're focusing all our efforts on winning the first game of the season right now."
The Friars will kick-off their season in luxurious fashion, with a showdown between the Chicago Public League's Hubbard at Soldier Field on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"It'll be a good experience for the team to play where the pros play," DiCanio said. "I know they are looking forward to it. It's a big game at the big house."
Adding to the difficulty of an early ascent up the Blue Division ladder is the fact that Fenwick only returns five starters, none on defense. Brien Rooney, Panan Tense, Jim Quaid, Patrick Doyle and Carmen Curio, all return to their original positions. Rooney showed tremendous leadership as a sophomore quarterback last season. He'll be protected mostly by the same line in Tense (tackle, 6-foot-3-inches, 310 pounds), Quaid (center, 6-foot, 235), Doyle (tight end), and Curio (tackle, 6-1, 240).
Others expected to make an impact this season include strong safety Jack Finan, nose guard Evan Pincham, running back Kendrick Crump, fullback Bill Barnhisal, and linebacker Dan Walsh.
Running back Dan Mega returns to the lineup after missing most of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"Last season our team was built around our defense, but this year things are different," said DiCanio. "We're mixing and matching on offense. We want to run and we want to throw the ball. We just need to be patient."
Sat., Aug. 27 vs. Hubbard
(at Soldier Field), 7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 2 vs. Gordon Tech
(at North Park College), 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 9 at St. Rita, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 18 vs. Hales
(OPRF Stadium), 1:30 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 25 vs. Brother Rice
(OPRF Stadium), 1:30 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 1 at De La Salle, 1:30 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 9 vs. Providence
(OPRF Stadium, HC) 1:30 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 15 at Loyola, 1:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 22 vs. Mt. Carmel
(St. Laurence HS), 1 p.m.