Prairie Ridge 35
Fenwick 26

Facing a team that only allowed a total of 49 points in nine regular-season games this season, the Fenwick football team gave Prairie Ridge a scare more times than once in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs in Crystal Lake on Saturday. But in the end, Prairie Ridge’s option offense proved too troubling for the Friars and the Wolves escaped with a 35-26 victory.

Head coach Joe DiCanio and his team came out firing from the get-go in anticipation of cracking the Wolves’ stingy defense. The move worked as the Friars (5-5) scored on their first play of the game with a 69-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Pat Hart to Quinn Murphy. Hart and Murphy (7 catches, 215 yards) hooked up again in the third quarter, this time for a 50-yard touchdown pass that put the Friars to within two at 28-26.

With 9:13 left in the game, Prairie Ridge’s Stephen Covalt scored from a yard out. The Friars got two touchdown runs of a yard and five yards from Hart in the second quarter. The junior quarterback, who finished the day 8-for-20 for 223 yards, cut the deficit to 21-19 by halftime.

“This was a great high school football game,” said DiCanio. “We couldn’t ask anything better of our players than to battle the way they did against such a good team. They fought every minute of the game, but in the end I think we just didn’t have enough in the tank.”

DiCanio had nothing but praise for Prairie Ridge’s football team. “They are 9-1 for a reason,” he said. “Their offense wore us down a bit and their defense came up with some big plays.”

The Friars had a difficult time containing fullback Connor Greenwald, who sprung from the option offense for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. The senior scored from four and 22 yards out in the first half. Quarterback Stephen Covalt finished with 14 carries for 74 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were in the second half.

An interception by the Wolves’ Corey Patterson stalled an 80-yard drive in the fourth for the Friars (5-5).

DiCanio was unwilling to discuss the departure of his senior starters just yet, not with the Catholic League Prep Bowl playoffs beginning on Saturday (Noon) against St. Laurence.

“There is still football to be played,” said DiCanio, whose team will try to advance to the title game to be held at Toyota Park on Nov. 19. “The Prep Bowl is a good thing for us. Young guys get a good chance to play and we’re looking forward to it.”

The Friars move to the White Division of the Catholic League next season with more compatible opponents, according to DiCanio. “It’s all about enrollment numbers and we’ll be more competitive in the White Division and we should fit right in,” he said.

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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...