Friday, July 31, 2015

Fenwick High School...

...should require no introduction to regular readers of this blog. Not only have I written extensively about the Oak Park college prep school over the years, but I've also had a number of relatives attend, including my dad (class of '37 and all-conference in basketball) and my uncle, who was in one of the very first graduating classes.

A little over a year ago I had the opportunity to sit down with head football coach Gene Nudo, above, who is about to enter his fourth season at the helm of the Friars. (You can read about it here, here, here and here.) Coach Nudo was tasked in 2012 with rebuilding Fenwick's storied program while maintaining its excellence in the classroom. (Not an easy job.) How did he do? Well, after three seasons Nudo is 25-12, qualifying for the playoffs and winning at least one postseason game in each year. In 2014 Fenwick made it all the way to the Class 7A quarterfinals. Is this the year they make it to the semis -- or beyond?

According to Coach Nudo, Fenwick "returns a young varsity team" led by junior Jake Keller, an "up and coming prospect" at quarterback. He will most likely hand off to senior returning starter Adam Williams at running back and look to pass to junior tight end Casey O'Laughlin and wide receivers Jack Henige and senior Will Lattner (another grandson of the legendary Heisman Trophy winner and Fenwick star Johnny Lattner). Anchoring the offensive line will be junior returning starter Joe Calcagno at guard.

On the other side of the ball, Ellis Taylor will be at defensive end with senior Pat Rafferty at cornerback. While Nudo expects "Aidan Maloney and Alex Pierson to solidify the secondary," it appears that the Friars may be strongest at the linebacker position with Brett Moorman, Marty Stein and senior Brian Doyle.

As usual, Fenwick will play a grueling Catholic League Green schedule with non-conference games against state runner-up Phillips and perennial 8A power Loyola Academy. Here's the full 2015 season from the school's website:

August 28: @ Phillips

September 4: Bowen
September 11: @ De La Salle
September 19: Loyola
September 25: @ DePaul Prep

October 3: Marmion
October 9: @ St. Ignatius
October 17: Montini
October 23: @ St. Francis

Looking at this schedule I could easily see Fenwick going 7-2 with possible losses to Loyola and Montini. (Although the Friars play both juggernauts at home; could they sneak up on one or both?) And while Marmion and St. Francis could also conceivably trip up the Friars, that would still make them 5-4 and playoff-eligible at the very least. Once in the postseason, of course, they'd start at 0-0 like everyone else.

Could Fenwick make it all the way to the finals in DeKalb this year? Knowing Coach Nudo, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

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