Fenwick’s running back Danny Kent avoids a tackler during a varsity football game against St. Ignatius. | Victor Guarino

One of Chicago Bulls television color commentator Stacey King’s favorite on-air exclamations is that big-time players make big-time plays.

That described the performance of Fenwick High School quarterback Kaden Cobb Oct. 22 at St. Ignatius. The Ball State commit accounted for three touchdowns as the Friars prevailed 28-20 to clinch the Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference White Division title, while also handing the host Wolfpack its’ first loss of the season.

“Kaden did everything we asked him to do tonight,” said Fenwick coach Matt Battaglia. “He made great reads and operated the offense. It was a beautiful thing to see. Our main goal entering the season was to win conference.”

The win sends the Friars (7-2, 3-0) into the IHSA state playoffs as the No. 2 seed in Class 5A. Fenwick will open the playoffs at home at Triton College on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. against No. 15 Kaneland.

Fenwick enters the playoffs with lots of momentum, having won four consecutive games to end the regular season. The Friars will once again attempt to win the school’s first IHSA state football championship.

“There’s a big box on our goal list. But we can only achieve that goal if we win each day,” Battaglia said. “We want to look ahead, but we’ve got to win each day first.”

Against St. Ignatius, with the Wolfpack’s ball-control style on offense, possessions were going to be at a premium for the Friars, and it was imperative to maximize those opportunities.

After Martin Paris stuffed St. Ignatius running back Tommy Bloss on a fourth-and-2 at the Fenwick 29 on the game’s opening possession, the Friars (7-2, 3-0) responded with a six-play scoring drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Cobb to Danny Kent and a 7-0 lead at the 5:29 mark of the first quarter.

The Wolfpack (8-1, 2-1) countered as Vinny Rugai broke free for a 54-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. However, Fenwick marched right back down the field, covering 65 yards in 9 plays. Bryan Hunt Jr (3 receptions, 71 yards), Eian Pugh (3 receptions, 37 yards) and Max Reese (4 receptions, 53 yards) each had key catches on the drive. Pugh’s came on a fourth-and-8 play from the St. Ignatius 29. Two plays later, Cobb found Pat Durkin open for an 8-yard score and a 14-7 lead.

St. Ignatius responded with an almost eight-minute, 54-yard drive that ended with Jake Petrow scoring on a quarterback sneak from the 1. However, the PAT was missed, leaving the score 14-13 Fenwick at halftime.

Rugai intercepted Cobb to start the second half, but the Friars’ defense then came up with a momentum-changing play as Denium Juette picked off Petrow and returned it to midfield. A 26-yard catch-and-run by Reese set up Fenwick’s third touchdown of the evening, a 1-yard plunge by Kent.

Then after getting a three-and-out defensively, the Friars found the house again, Cobb himself doing the honors with a 24-yard run off a read-option.

“Kaden is Mr. Excitement. You never know what’s going to go on when he’s on the field,” said Fenwick center Jimmy Liston. “He’s a great player.”

St. Ignatius’ Jack Molloy scored on a 7-yard jet sweep to cut Fenwick’s lead to 28-20 with 6:50 left in regulation. Then after getting a three-and-out, the Wolfpack moved deep into Friars’ territory in the final minutes. St. Ignatius received a break when an interception by Aidan Vargas was overturned by the officials, who ruled the play had been blown dead before the snap.

On fourth-and-goal from the Fenwick 7-yard line with 29 seconds remaining, Molloy swept to the right, but a host of Friars stopped him two yards short of the end zone, resulting in a turnover on downs. Cobb then knelt to secure the victory.

“It was hard-fought; we came together as a team,” Liston said. “St. Ignatius is a great opponent and rival, and you have to give credit to them. They played their tails off and it was a great game.”

OPRF falls to York to end season

Matt Vezza’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Specht with 22 seconds left gave York (8-1, 5-1) a 36-33 victory over visiting Oak Park and River Forest High School Oct. 22 in West Suburban Silver football action.

The loss eliminated the Huskies (4-5, 2-4) from IHSA state football playoff consideration.

Against York, OPRF quarterback Jack Gooch went 21-of-39 passing for 268 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kelby Gray rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown while Demetrius Dortch amassed 142 all-purpose yards and added two touchdowns.

Defensively for OPRF, Jackson-Hughes Ambrose N’Cho-Allepot had a fumble recovery, Anthony Brown an interception, and Sam Gray a sack.

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