Due to a rash of injuries and illness, the Fenwick football team was a bit short handed against Bishop McNamara in Kankakee on Friday night.

In the end, Fenwick not only won its Chicago Catholic League White opener but revealed its character the team edged the Fightin’ Irish 21-18 in overtime.

The Friars’ two-time touchdown combination of quarterback Gino Cavalieri and 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end Ryan Smith, coupled with clutch kicking from Zach Laszkiewicz, powered Fenwick to a comeback victory.

Trailing Bishop McNamara 18-3 midway through the game, the Friars methodically worked their way back into the fold when Cavalieri (13-for-30, 151 yards) threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Smith, whittling the deficit to 18-10 with 4:14 left in the third quarter. The effective Cavalieri to Smith connection found paydirt again on a 21-yard pass play at the 5:32 mark of the fourth quarter. Cavalieri tossed a pass to Bobby Somers for a successful two-point conversion to knot the score at 18-18.

“Gino is a work-in-progress at quarterback,” Fenwick coach Gene Nudo said, “but he’s a talented, competitive kid. Ryan Smith has the potential to be an excellent high school football player as well as a player at the high college level. He’s got soft hands and he’s a mismatch for teams.”

Laszkiewicz missed his first opportunity to be the hero of the game when he just missed a 54-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation; however, the 5-11, 190-pound senior nailed a 21-yard field goal in overtime to lift Fenwick to a rousing 21-18 victory.

“Playing at Bishop Mac is always tough,” Nudo said. “It’s truly a Friday Night Lights environment, and I was really proud of the effort from our players and our coaches.”

The win improved the Friars’ record to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Chicago Catholic League White. Bishop McNamara fell to 2-2 and 0-1 in the CCL White standings.

With featured running back Robert Spillane out due to injury, Somers ran well leading Fenwick in rushing with 64 yards on 20 carries. Smith finished with four catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns. Laszkiewicz, who opened the scoring with a 37-yard field goal to put Fenwick up at the 6:07 mark of the first quarter, made 2-of-4 field goal attempts and a PAT on the night. Like the previous week against St. Rita, punter Pat Koerner kicked very well, allowing Fenwick to win the field position battle.

Fenwick also played a relatively mistake-free game, committing only three penalties for 30 yards. The Friars finished with 251 yards of total offense (85 rushing/151 passing), while Bishop McNamara amassed 246 yards offensively.

Jonnie Evans ran hard for Bishop McNamara, racking up 157 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Dalton Major scored a pair of touchdowns on runs of five and 14 yards for, paving the way to their early lead.

The Friars host St. Laurence (1-3, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday on the Morton West campus at Hoffman Field.

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...

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