Pat Hart reminds Fenwick football head coach Joe DiCanio of Brien Rooney, and that’s a good thing.

A few years ago, Rooney started at quarterback for the Friars from his sophomore season through his senior season. In 2006, he helped lead Fenwick to third place in the Blue Division and advance to the playoffs. Hart, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore, enters his first year on varsity as the starting quarterback for the Friars. In spite of his lack of experience – at the position and at the level – Hart, who is a little bigger than Rooney was, has good speed and makes wise decisions, according to DiCanio.

“The offense is basically based around his athletic abilities,” said DiCanio of Hart, who led the Blue Division in rushing at the freshman level last season while also starting at linebacker. “We’re excited about what he brings to the table. He’s going to make us competitive this season and seasons to come.

“Pat did a great job during summer camp and he’s doing a tremendous job during two-a-days right now. It’s not going to take him long to adjust to the play at this level. He’s that good of an athlete.”

DiCanio added that his offense will look distinctly like it did when Rooney was at the position – a pro set with the main objective to run the ball. Eric Hulihan, a 5-7 returning starter, is expected to get the bulk of the running plays.

“I’ve found over the last couple of years playing these powerhouse teams like Mt. Carmel and Loyola that the least amount of plays we have on offense the better off we are,” said DiCanio. “We’re going to try to control the clock more.”

The majority of DiCanio’s returning starters reside on the defensive side of the ball. Steve Sreniawski (6-2, 240 pounds, tackle), Glenn Somers (6-3, 275, tackle), Rick Sorrentino (6-1, 200, linebacker), Chris Celio, (6-1, 200, linebacker), Jack Stibich (6-2, 200) and Quinn Murphy (free safety) all return to the lineup.

Though the Friars went 3-7 overall last season and were winless in the Blue Division, not all was lost. Twelve members of that team went on to play football at the college level.

“Our schedule is difficult mainly because we play in a very tough division, probably the toughest division in the state and one of the toughest in the country,” said DiCanio, who is entering his seventh year at the helm. “Us winning just three games last year isn’t a reflection of the amount of talent we have on our football team. It just shows that the Catholic League Blue Division is very powerful.”

Six of Fenwick’s nine opponents last season qualified for the state tournament.

“We’re focused on one game and one game only right now,” added DiCanio. “We play Notre Dame on Aug. 29. We’re a young team and we need to mature quickly and stay healthy to compete against these teams, and I’m confident we will do that.”

The Friars take on Notre Dame at Soldier Field on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. as part of the Preseason Prep Bowl. They’ll host Lindblom Math and Science Academy in their home opener at Morton West High School on Sept. 4 (1:30 p.m.).

Up Close

  • Key returners: Eric Hulihan, Glenn Somers, Jack Stibich
  • 2009 record: 3-7 overall, 0-5 CCL Blue Division
  • Outlook: Young quarterback may need some time to adjust to the bruising Blue Division.
  • Coach’s quote: “We will do what we can with what we have.”

    2010 Schedule
  • Sun., 6:30 p.m. vs. Notre Dame (at Soldier Field)
  • Sept. 4, 1:30 p.m. vs. Lindblom Academy
  • Sept. 11, 11 a.m. vs. *Mt. Carmel (at Gately Stadium)
  • Sept. 18, 1:30 p.m. vs. *St. Rita
  • Sept. 26, 3 p.m. vs. Leo (Gately Stadium)
  • Oct. 2, 1:30 p.m. vs. *Providence
  • Oct. 9, 1:30 p.m. at *Loyola
  • Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m. at Hales
  • Oct. 23, 1:30 p.m. vs. *Brother Rice
    (Homecoming)

*Denotes league games. All home games are at Morton West High School unless noted.

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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...