Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Quick: Which Wheaton high school...

...football team had the best record last year?

Wheaton Warrenville South? Nope. Good guess, though. The Tigers finished at 7-5, falling to eventual 7A champ Providence in the quarterfinals.

How about Wheaton North? Wrong again. The Falcons actually had a losing year in 2014, 4-5.

Wait, wait -- don't tell me! It's a trick question. Wheaton Academy? No, but you're getting warm. The Warriors, who compete in the Metro Suburban - West Conference, finished a respectable 5-4 in 2014. (That's actually a trick answer; Wheaton Academy is located in West Chicago.)

Give up? The correct answer is St. Francis, on Roosevelt Road, almost equidistant between the two public high schools. The Spartans, who play their home games at Kuhn Stadium, were 10-3 last year and made it all the way to the 6A semifinals where they lost (like everyone else) to eventual champion Nazareth. (On the way, the royal blue and white dispatched Grayslake North, Lakes and Hinsdale South.)

So who is this St. Francis High School, anyway?

Well, the co-educational, college preparatory, Roman Catholic school was founded in 1957 by the Christian Brothers, Franciscan Sisters and Ladies of Loretto (Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and currently enrolls about 800 students. Among its many distinguished alums is John Cullerton, below, the president of the Illinois State Senate. (I'm guessing Class of '67.)

What about the football team? The Spartans are coached by Mike Fitzgerald (that's him at the top of this post, after winning the quarterfinal game against Hinsdale South) and are in the Green Division of the Chicago Catholic League. Fitzgerald is only in his second year at the helm of St. Francis, after spending seven years as an assistant at Marist. Before that, the Lake Forest College grad was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at his alma mater and the wide receivers coach at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (I asked Coach Fitz -- is that what they call him? -- about his own playing career but he didn't answer. I'm guessing he'd rather I write about the kids.)

The Spartans are ranked No. 25 in Beth Long's preseason poll at the Sun-Times. (The Trib hasn't released its poll as of this writing.) According to a lightly edited email from Coach Fitzgerald:

Senior Peter Fassnacht is emerging as our starting quarterback for this fall. We have three returning starters on offense in running back Will Purdom, wide receiver Michael Beach (who also plays defensive back) and tackle Kevin Killian, all seniors.

Will Purdom is a very dynamic player who can also play wide receiver. He's a great punter, kicks off and can return. 

Other players to watch this year are seniors Dom Cosentino, Mike Mayor, Brian Gorsky and Dan Bos, who can all contribute at wide receiver and defensive back; Tristan Bolin, Brett Whelton and Greg Bogdanski III at tight end and linebacker; and defensive back Liam Marren. On the line will be seniors Nick Kavouris and John Perry

Every league game will be crucial for us but big rivals Marmion and Montini seem to be big every year. Marmion beat us in the last seconds last year, 17-13, so I know the kids will be looking forward to that one.

Here's the full 2015 Spartan schedule:

August 28: Kelvyn Park Academy

September 4: Catalyst/Maria High School 
September 11: @ Marmion Academy 
September 18: @ Brother Rice
September 25: Hales Franciscan*

October 2: St. Laurence
October 9: @ Montini  
October 16: De La Salle
October 23: Fenwick

* Hales is on the schedule according to MaxPreps, but Coach Fitzgerald writes:

We have had some tough scheduling issues. Still don't have a Week 5 game so looking. 

How do I see the Spartans this year? I'll say they go at least 7-2, beating Kelvyn Park, Catalyst/Maria, Hales (if they play), St. Laurence and De La Salle. Last year St. Francis split the remaining four games against conference rivals Marmion, Montini and Fenwick, and Catholic Blue power Brother Rice. Would it be too great a lift to improve on that this season? Might be, although I'm sure Coach Fitzgerald would like to prove me wrong.

Still, 7-2 would be nothing to sneeze at, especially considering the Spartans went a combined 10-9 in the two years before Coach Fitzgerald showed up. And the postseason? Well, who's to say St. Francis won't knock off Nazareth this year and find themselves in DeKalb on Thanksgiving weekend? Not me.

1 comment:

Ed Crotty said...

"Due to low participation, Hales officials have suspended the football program for the 2015 season." Hales is fighting to stay open.


And my younger son played pee-wee football with Brian Gorsky - His Dad, Dan was one of the coaches. Nice kid, nice family.