A Top 10 for 2006 Fall sports only? Why not the entire year of sports, right?

Well, here in the sports department our end of the year basically comes in June, coinciding with the conclusion of the school year. Therefore, we decided after much consideration to narrow our Top 10 down to the Fall sports of ’06, and then possibly doing another Top 10 at the end of the winter sports session and so forth in the spring. This way all the athletes, the teams, the sports, will get their fair shot at making the list.

So, without further ado, here are the results of our scientific study (not) of the best sports highlights during the Fall of ’06. Enjoy, and no brooding, grandstanding or wagering!

No. 10 – Trinity Volleyball

The Trinity volleyball team was a force to be reckoned with during most of the season. Led by Caroline Brander and Nicole Paneque and aided by two-sport athletes Jackie Marzullo, Lykendra Johnson, and Amanda Macchione, the Blazers were powerful. In a win over St. Viator, Brander picked up nine kills, five blocks, and five digs, while Paneque dished out 19 assists. It got to a point where fans began asking, “Who can stop this team?”

9) Fenwick Volleyball

Which brings us to Fenwick volleyball. The Friars visited River Forest and left with a 25-18, 25-12 victory. Liz O’Brien’s five points from the service line gave Fenwick the spark in the first game. It was a true team effort for the Friars as Claire Liston snagged 13 kills, Emily Slavik 18 digs, Colleen Quaid 22 assists, Michelle Danno seven blocks, and O’Brien 11 kills.

8) Fenwick Tennis

In the final conference match of the season, and with top player Rachel Dillon out ill, Fenwick’s Catherine Maloney took over No. 1 singles duties and won 6-1, 6-0 to lead the tennis team to a stellar 8-1 East Suburban Catholic Conference mark.

7) Fenwick Soccer

Joe Elpayaa’s save in a shootout helped the Friars claim a 3-2 upset over rival OPRF in the opening round of the Class AA regional playoffs. The Fenwick soccer team went on to nearly upset Lyons Township in the championship game. Matt Altier gave the Friars, who finished the season with a 12-6-1 record, a 1-0 lead. The advantage held up until Lyons’ Matt Stolik tied the game at 1-1 with less than seven minutes to play and the Lions ended up winning 2-1.

“For 74 minutes, we were the better team on the field,” Fenwick coach Rob Watson said.

6) OPRF Golf

Coming off a disappointing 164-174 loss to Downers Grove North, the OPRF golf team came from behind to edge York with its best round of the season. Clayton Young led the Huskies to a 161-162 victory by shooting a 38, while Connor Roche and Dan Kowalczyk both finished with 40s. Matt Linder holed out with a 43.

5) Fenwick Football

With his team down seven, and stymied by a 55-minute delay due to an electrical storm, Fenwick quarterback Brien Rooney re-energized his team by spearheading an offensive onslaught that eventually led to a 35-19 Homecoming victory over De La Salle.

First, Rooney ran for a 12-yard touchdown, then the senior completed touchdown passes of 57, 13, and 48 yards, all of which came in the first half.

“During the weather delay, it was important for us to stay calm,” said Rooney, who finished the day 11-of-19 for 276 yards. “All our receivers were great and you have to give credit to the offensive line. It’s fun having all these guys out there.”

4) Fenwick Swimming (girls)

Veterans and newbies meshed to win the Fenwick girls swim team’s own invitational title. Senior Meghan Barron, who went on to close out her high school career with a fourth straight appearance at the State Meet, outpaced the field in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing with a time of 54.36 seconds. Freshman Casey Dollard won the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:14.36, while sophomore Sylvia Knap took first in the 50-yard free in 25.18 seconds. A few days later, the Friars swept all 12 events to defeat OPRF 129-57.

3) OPRF Football

Before Devin Hester made a name for himself weaving in and out of the grasp of defenders for the Chicago Bears, there was a football player named Levell Coppage. In only his junior year, the OPRF running back scorched Lyons Township for 246 yards on 31 carries in a 35-27 Huskies victory. He also caught four passes for 63 yards in that win. In his first three games on varsity, Coppage compiled 549 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

Coppage played a key part in OPRF’s 21-7 upset of 16th-ranked Hinsdale Central. He tallied 78 yards rushing in the second half, including an 18-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

2) OPRF Cross-country (girls)

Alison and Katherine Rack led the OPRF girls cross-country team to its best finish in 18 years, 12th place at the Class AA State Meet.

Every single runner on OPRF’s team ran season-best times on the 3-mile course at Detweiller Park in Peoria, including freshman Katherine Rack and her sister, three-time state runner Alison. Katherine placed 10th overall with a time of 17:19, while Alison finished 64th in 18:06.

1) Drum roll, please ? drum roll! ?Thddddd, thddddd, thdddddd … Fenwick football’s thrilling 19-17 victory over fourth-ranked St. Rita.

With three seconds left in the game, St. Rita kicker Stephen Flaherty’s 49-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left as Fenwick fans poured out of the stands and onto the field to celebrate the upset with their team.

Rooney had inspired the stampede only seconds before the kick by slithering into the end zone from 2-yards out to give his team the go-ahead touchdown. With less than two minutes to play in the game, the Friars had orchestrated an 80-yard touchdown drive, which was catapulted by a 38-yard pass play from Rooney to Patrick Doyle.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...