Winning in Wilmette against high-powered Loyola is never an easy proposition for any visiting football team. Led by junior quarterback sensation Malcolm Weaver, the host Ramblers rolled Fenwick 45-7 on Saturday afternoon.
At first box score glance, Weaver finished a “pedestrian” 14-for-23 for 144 yards and two touchdowns, but his impact was certainly appreciated by Fenwick coach Joe DiCanio.
“He’s a terrific quarterback,” Dicanio said of the Ramblers’ budding star. “We tried to disguise our coverages, but he just dropped the ball perfectly into his receivers’ hands.”
Running a no-huddle, widespread offense, the strong-armed Weaver completed 10 of 12 passes in the opening quarter as Loyola raced out to a 14-0 lead. Marquese Martin-Hayes scored on a pair of three-yard touchdown runs during the Ramblers’ auspicious start.
Loyola essentially put the game away in the second quarter when Weaver tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to E.J. Webb and a 19-yard scoring strike to Martin-Hayes. Chuck Kiazydlowski added a 40-yard field goal to lift Loyola to a 31-0 lead at halftime.
“Loyola has a bunch of physical, skilled players that are well coached,” DiCanio added. “We felt we had to control the kicking game and we were sub par in that area. We also had some miscues defensively. Our kids gave great effort, but Loyola is just a great team. They are better than advertised.”
Spencer Parry and Quanyae Farrior continued the one-way traffic for Loyola as both players scored on five-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter.
Trailing 45-0, Fenwick finally found the scoreboard when sophomore quarterback Pat Hart (8-for-16, 95 yards) threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to John Rooney with 7:48 remaining in the game. Rooney finished with five catches for 61 yards, while senior running back Eric Hulihan had 10 carries for 70 yards to lead Fenwick in rushing.
Loyola outgained the Friars 350 to 123 yards in total offense.
“We were overmatched,” DiCanio said. “I think with the heat, plus we were missing key guys like Quinn Murphy and Zach Vergara [in the Fenwick secondary] and lost a couple more players during the game, they just wore us down. It was a numbers game.”
The loss to Loyola snaps the Friars’ modest but impressive two-game winning streak (which they outscored the opposition 45-14) in the rugged Catholic League Blue.
While Loyola (6-1, 3-1) is battling St. Rita and Mount Carmel for the coveted conference championship, Fenwick suddenly has a new and clearly defined objective. At 3-4 overall (1-3 Catholic Blue), the Friars’ magic number for a postseason berth is now two wins. The team’s pursuit of that goal starts this Friday (7:30 p.m.) at Hales Franciscan.
“Our playoffs start this week,” DiCanio said. “Hales is a much improved football team and we haven’t been a great team on the road. We’ll get to work in practice and shift our focus to Hales.”
The resurgent Spartans recently snapped a 16-game losing streak this season with consecutive wins over Gordon Tech and St. Joseph. Hales features junior quarterback Christopher Walker, wideouts Antone Simmons and Willie Allen, along with defensive standouts Jerry Humphrey and Darius White.
If Fenwick defeats Hales in the Catholic League crossover matchup, the Friars’ regular season finale against Brother Rice (1 p.m.) on Saturday, Oct. 23 at Morton West may carry postseason implications for both the Friars and visiting Crusaders.