Both Fenwick High School football coach Matt Battaglia and quarterback Kaden Cobb compared the Friars’ game with Marmion Academy on Oct. 1 at Triton College to a heavyweight boxing bout.
“They threw some big haymakers at us and punched us in the face. We had to respond at halftime,” Battaglia said after Fenwick’s 35-28 victory. “The team came out energized and played a really good half of football.”
“It was way closer than we would have liked,” added Cobb, who completed 14-of-25 passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions passing, plus 65 yards and a touchdown rushing.
“We had a lot of momentum in the first half then got hit in the face and didn’t react too well,” Cobb said. “But as soon as the second half came around, we did our jobs and came out with the win.”
The Friars (4-2, 2-0) got off to an inauspicious start as Cobb was picked off by Marmion’s Joshua Lim, who reached the Fenwick 14 on the subsequent return. The Cadets (3-3, 0-2) cashed in as quarterback Daniel Chung scored on a three-yard keeper five plays later for the early lead.
However, the momentum swung back into Fenwick’s favor as the Friars scored touchdowns on their next three possessions — a 14-yard lateral run by Max Reese, a 62-yard reception by Reese (4 receptions, 103 yards; 2 TDs) and a 29-yard burst by Danny Kent (15 rushes, 85 yards) — to take a 21-7 lead after the first quarter. Kent’s score was set up by an interception from Denium Juette, who also recorded a forced fumble.
It looked like Fenwick was on its way to a rout, but on the first play of the second quarter, the Friars’ Martin Paris hit a sliding Chung in a helmet-to-helmet collision.
Paris was ejected, and the play seemed to fire up Marmion as the Cadets embarked on a long scoring march, capped by Dane Partridge’s three-yard touchdown run.
Fenwick briefly changed momentum back on the next drive as Cobb found a wide-open Bryan Hunt Jr. (5 receptions, 107 yards) for a 60-yard touchdown pass.
“He’s been incredible,” said Cobb of the senior wide receiver. “He’s racked over 500 yards and has five touchdowns this season. He’s catching the ball when he needs to and he’s also blocking. Bryan’s going to get a lot more touches because he’s doing his job.”
However, Iain Ramage’s extra point was missed, leaving the score 27-14. Marmion responded on its next possession with a nine-yard touchdown run by Tyler Bradshaw, then after Alexander Valenzuela intercepted Cobb, the Cadets took a 28-27 halftime lead when Jacob Botterini, from the wildcat formation, scored from three yards out.
Partridge’s kickoff return to the Fenwick 35 starting the second half put Marmion in business. But once again, the pendulum swung towards the Friars as Suleiman Abuaqel sacked Chung on fourth down to give Fenwick the ball.
“Last year, we were in the same predicament against them, and we lost,” Abuaqel said. “We all decided as a team that we were going to bring the energy up. It was a lot better in the second half.”
Three plays later, Cobb found the house on a 48-yard keeper to give the Friars the lead for good. Kent’s two-point conversion made the score 35-28.
Fenwick’s defense forced punts on the next two drives, but the offense couldn’t take advantage. Early in the fourth, Marmion turned it over on downs. Then the Friars went on a 16-play, 59-yard drive that consumed eight and a half minutes. But Fenwick wasn’t able to punch the ball in from the Cadets’ 1 as Reese and Cobb were kept out of the end zone on third and fourth down.
“We would have liked to put it in to finish,” Battaglia said. “But it was huge for us to be able to chew up that much of the clock. Then the defense stepped up and did what we expect them to do.”
Marmion had a final chance to tie or win and got as far as the Fenwick 37 in the closing seconds. But Chung threw four consecutive incompletions to end the threat and the game.
“The way Coach [Titcus] Pettigrew and his staff made those [defensive] adjustments at halftime, that’s what brought all the momentum back to our side,” Battaglia said.
Fenwick is in a good position this season, needing only one more victory to become eligible to earn a postseason berth. But the Friars also know there’s a lot of work ahead in the next three weeks, particularly when it comes to self-discipline.
“We need discipline and attention to detail in practice,” Cobb said. “That’s what we’re lacking. We had too many penalties.”
“We’ve got to stop jumping offside, getting penalties, and talking trash,” added Abuaqel. “Once we do that, then we’ll be one of the best teams in the state.”
Fenwick’s final home game of the season is Oct. 8 against St. Patrick. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
OPRF steamrolls Morton 41-7
Senior running back Kelby Gray (14 carries, 161 yards) scored four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) and senior wide receiver E.J. Locke (6 catches, 94 yards) caught two touchdown passes as the Oak Park and River Forest High School football team snapped a three-game losing streak with a 41-7 road victory over Morton in Berwyn on Oct. 1.
Quarterback Jack Gooch competed 12 of 19 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Cameron Crape had two interceptions.
The Huskies (2-4) travel to Hillside on Oct. 9 for a West Suburban Silver matchup with Proviso West. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.