By Marty Farmer
To ensure a happy trip to Texas this week, it was imperative that the Fenwick High School football team first take care of business in Berwyn over the weekend. The Friars, who take on host Bishop Lynch in Dallas Friday (Sept. 6), completed Part 1 of their "Texas Two Step" scheduling so to speak by dismantling St. Joseph 63-0 much closer to home on Saturday at Hoffman Stadium on the Morton West campus.
"Leading into the first game, our focus had been exclusively on St. Joseph," Fenwick head coach Gene Nudo said. "Now, with this win under our belt, we can turn our attention to Bishop Lynch. The first two games of the season are crucial because it sets the direction and tone for a football team."
With the Maria SS Lauretana Italian Fest simultaneously going on behind the North end zone during the game, Fenwick added to the festive albeit surreal atmosphere by scoring early and often against the overmatched Chargers.
Senior running back Robert Spillane (six carries, 81 yards, three touchdowns) scored on a seven-yard run at 6:25 of the first quarter. After holding St. Joseph to a three-and-out offensive series, Fenwick struck again when Charlie Emmons found the end zone from seven yards out to extend the Friars' advantage to 14-0 with 3:46 left in the first quarter. Three plays later, St. Joseph quarterback Casey Scalise fumbled the football which was recovered and returned to the St. Joseph 1 by the Friars' Kyle Daley. Spillane went up top for a one-yard touchdown leap building the Fenwick lead to 21-0.
Midway through the second quarter, Fenwick quarterback Gino Cavalieri (4-for-6, 172 yards) threw a perfect 72-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Smith making the score 28-0. The 6-foot-5, 242-pound Smith finished with three catches for 110 yards.
"Our offense really clicked and our defense gave us good field position," Cavalieri said. "With so many returning starters, we have really good team chemistry this season."
The Chargers, who struggled all night to establish momentum on offense with the exception of their opening drive, gave up another touchdown on a botched punt attempt. Emmons added a one-yard touchdown run and Spillane scored on a seven-yard burst extending the lead to 49-0 at halftime. Grant Miller and Pat Donahue each scored a rushing touchdown in the second half to close out the Friars' scoring en route to a 63-0 victory.
Fenwick dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball with 180 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on 20 carries. Defensively, Jack Rafferty paced the Friars with six tackles, while Mike Kozyra tallied six tackles. Keshaun Smith had an interception.
"I thought we did some things very well," Nudo said. "I was happy with the passing game. Obviously Robert Spillane is a hard runner and Charlie Emmons played well [tonight], so I'm really happy for him.
"Defensively, St. Joe's posed a few problems for us early but our guys adjusted well," Nudo added. "[Linebacker] Michael Krecek was out there knocking guys around pretty good. [Cornerback] Richard Schoen is a leader, and obviously, [defensive lineman] Chris Hawthorne is also a very good player."
The versatile Schoen turned in a tremendous all-around performance with a 62-yard reception and three sacks.
"We worked well as a team on both sides of the ball and had good coaching [tonight]," Schoen said. "All the work we put in over the summer came out in this game. We don't want to lose any games this year. Our goal is to go all the way and win a state championship."
Fenwick turns its attention to the lone star state next, hopping a plane Thursday for Dallas to take on Bishop Lynch. Bishop Lynch, a private Catholic School founded in 1963 by the same Dominican order as Fenwick, is aptly named the Friars as well. One of the founders of Bishop Lynch was Fenwick grad Rev. Richard LaPata, who also spent nine years as Fenwick's president.
"We're playing a very good Bishop Lynch team on their 50th anniversary," Nudo said. "Who knows what we'll see, it could be a madhouse out there. I'm excited for the trip because it will be a great experience for our kids, but our top priority is to win the football game."
Contributing: Brad Spencer