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The Fenwick defense, led by (#48) Marty Stein and Brett Moorman (#51) held host Leo's offense scoreless in a 38-6 win on Friday, Sept. 16 in Chicago. (photo by Marie Lillig)

By: Marty Farmer Sports Editor

The Dominicans versus the Jesuits. Who ya got?

The highly anticipated high school football showdown between Chicago Catholic League unbeaten teams Fenwick (4-0) and Loyola Academy (4-0) takes place on Friday, Sept. 23 at Triton College in River Grove. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

The Friars cruised past host Leo 36-8 in Chicago Friday night. Fenwick quarterback Jacob Keller and running back Conner Lillig led the way once again offensively. Keller completed 14 of 22 passes for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Lillig rushed 19 times for 134 yards and a TD.Standout wide receiver Mike O'Laughlin also played well, with seven catches for 91 yards including a TD catch.  Wide receivers Sherman Martin (3 catches, 42 yards), Jack Henige (3 catches, 35 yards, TD), Lillig (2 catches, 33 yards) also contributed to the Friars' diversified aerial attack.

"Our coaches hold us to the highest standards," Henige said. "For example (Fenwick wide receivers) Coach Rooney demands that we catch every ball. "There is no room for error and especially no room for lack of focus. As players and teammates, we push each other as hard as we can because we know that competition breeds success, That's one way we improve every day."

While some may view the Friars' 4-0 start a bit surprising (especially with victories against defending state champs like Phillips (Class 4A) and Montini (6A), the players believed they could bounce back from last year's 3-6 campaign. That served as a powerful source of motivation during the offseason.

"Expectations are always very high for us. They have been even greater this year," Fenwick offensive lineman Joe Calcagno said. "Between having so many returning players (17), having a brand new home field and maintaining our Fenwick tradition of excellence, we have a lot to live up to. We are all confident in each other to meet end exceed those expectations."

Looking ahead to Loyola Academy, the Ramblers are led by standout tight end Jake Marwede, quarterback Tommy Herion, plus other running backs Kyle Rock and Hammid Bullie. The 6-foot-5 Marwede is a Duke recruit and one of the best players in the state. Fenwick will counter with Keller, Lillig and a cadre of talented receivers plus a swarming defense. Although the Loyola-Fenwick game will be hyped up, the Friars have done an excellent job of tackling the season game by game.

"One key to our 4-0 start has been our ability to ignore the hype and take care of business," offensive/defensive lineman Sean Heslin said. "No one outside of ourselves had high expectations at the beginning of the season. We've had a chip on our shoulders because of that and we're focused on our team goals." 

  Fenwick senior running back Conner Lillig had a career high 201 yards
on 31 carries during the Friars 38-6 win over Montini on Friday (file photo)

Sports Editor

The Fenwick High School football team is for real.

The Friars' attention-grabbing 38-6 win over Montini at Triton College Friday only reinforced the team's superb play through three games this season.

After a disappointing 3-6 campaign in 2015, Fenwick has returned 17 starters this season and already notched victories against Phillips, Bowen and Montini. Phillips and Montini are defending stats champs in Class 4A and 6A, respectively. The Friars (3-0, 1-0 Chicago Catholic League Green) have outscored their opponents 123-32 and are averaging 41 points per game.

The Friars' win against Montini on Friday avenged a 48-7 loss to the Broncos last season.

Quarterback Jacob Keller and running back Conner Lillig powered the Friars in their rematch victory. Keller completed 13 of 18 passes for 177 yards and rushed six times for 32 yards. He accounted for four touchdowns overall (2 passing, 2 rushing). Lillig also turned in a monster performance offensively with 201 yards and a TD on 31 carries.

With Lillig and an excellent offensive line leading the way, Fenwick dominated on the ground with 42 carries for 242 yards.

The passing game has been potent as well, featuring a cadre of capable receivers. Jack Henige (5 catches, 62 yards, TD), Sherman Martin (3 catches, 46 yards, TD), Mike O'Laughlin (3 catches, 39 yards)  and Lillig (1 catch, 16 yards) all contributed against Montini.

Even kicker Conor Hendzel took part in the scoring barrage with a 36-yard field goal. He also had three touchbacks on five kickoffs.

The Friars scored on their first four possessions of the first half. Keller threw a 16-yard TD pass to Martin and an 8-yard TD pass to Henige in the first quarter as Fenwick built a 14-0 lead. Hendzel's field goal and an 11-yard run by Keller extended the lead to 24-0 in the second quarter.

In the second half, Lillig and Keller added touchdown runs of eight and seven yards, respectively, to close out the scoring for Fenwick.

Defensively, the Friars excelled with strong production from multiple players. Senior linebacker Brett Moorman had a team-high 5 ½ tackles plus a sack against Montini. Other top contributors included Lorenzano Blakeney (5 tackles, fumble recovery), Ryan Chapman (4 tackles) along with Ellis Taylor and Lorente Blakeney (3 tackles each). Jack Kaminski added a sack.

Senior running back Will Smith led Montini in rushing with 20 carries for 75 yards. Prince Walker, the Broncos' top rusher, left the game in the second quarter with a strained quad injury.

Michael Cooney kicked a pair of field goals for Montini (1-2, 0-1).

The Friars hit the road for the first time this season, taking on Leo Friday, Sept. 16. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m

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Fenwick senior running back Conner Lillig sheds a Bowen defender with a stiff arm. Lillig led a dominant ground game with 98 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 5 carries.
(submitted photo)

Fenwick Blows out Bowen

Lauren Recchia  Contributing Reporter 

Fresh off an inspiring 34-26 win against Class 4A state champion Phillips, the Friars (2-0) had a much easier time against a Chicago Public School in Week 2 action.

Fenwick routed visiting Bowen 51-0 on Friday at Triton College in River Grove. Senior quarterback Jacob Keller completed 4 of 6 passes for 51 yards and a pair of touchdowns. After two games, Keller has six TD passes and no interceptions.

Sherman Martin had two catches for a team-best 42 receivig yards, while tight end Jack Henige also had two receptions for nine yards and two touchdowns.

After a tough outing against a very physical Phillips defense, Fenwick running back Conner Lillig had 98 yards and two TDs on just five carries against Bowen. The Friars dominated with their ground game, amassing 152 yards and five touchdowns on 15 carries. Micheal Paunove, George Lazios and Jackson Haeflinger each had a rushing touchdown for the victors.

Lorenzano had a team-high four solo tackles, with his brother, Lorente, Gavin Ortiz and Jason Ivery contributing three solo tackles apiece. Miles Guillen added a safety. 

Throughout the 2016 high school football regular-season in Illinois, the Chicago Bears will honor an IHSA football player and coach each week as a part of its “Bears High School All-Star” and “Bears Coach of the Week” programs, respectively. The Chicago Bears will make a $2,000 total contribution to support the winning high schools and a local youth football program of the winner's choosing. Throughout the program’s 19-year existence, the Bears have donated over $258,000 to Illinois high schools in support of their football programs. All 2016 honorees will be invited to Soldier Field, where they will be recognized on December 4 when the Bears host the 49ers.

All press releases below are courtesy of the Chicago Bears
COACH - Gene Nudo of Fenwick High School in Oak Park, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 1. In the Friars debut at their new stadium at Triton College, Nundo led Fenwick to a 34-26 upset victory over defending Class 4A State Champion Wendell Phillips Academy. Fenwick was down 20-0 at the beginning of the second quarter before making a thrilling comeback. It was only Wendell Phillips’ second loss in their last 27 games. Coach Nundo is in his fifth season as head coach of the Friars 
Mike O'Laughlin
 Contact Reporter Pioneer Press August 27, 2016

The Friars, who will play the next 10 years of home contests at Triton College, made a statement from the outset.

In their first game under their lights, the first game since the passing of Heisman Trophy winner and Friars legend Johnny Lattner,

a game they trailed by 20 points just two minutes into the second quarter, a game without a seat to be had in the home bleachers, the Friars roared back to beat Phillips 34-26 in River Grove.

Fifth-year Fenwick coach Gene Nudo, coming off a three-win season, was unsurprised by the result. For Phillips, last year's Class 4A champion, it was its second loss in its past 27 games.



Fenwick High School, a member of the Chicago Catholic League,

is pleased to announce Mark Vruno as its Head Freshmen Football Coach and English Teacher.


Vruno takes over for the legendary Catholic League Hall of Fame Coach, Rich Borsch.

Vruno, a native of Norridge, has been a part of Fenwick’s varsity football staff since 2012,

helping lead the Friars to an appearance in the State Quarterfinals and 2 conference championships.


A varsity coach since 1985 (DeLaSalle), Vruno also spent 8 years at Ridgewood,

helping lead them to 3 state playoff appearances.

Vruno started at quarterback collegiately at Lake Forest graduating with a double major in 1984.

Additionally he won the 1992 National Semi Pro title as quarterback of the Dupage Eagles.


In 1980 Mark was named as an All-State Quarterback by the IHSA

while playing at Ridgewood High School, where his jersey has been retired.


Join us in congratulating Rich Borsch on his induction into the CCL Hall of Fame

If you would like to send Rich a note, his email is

For 41 seasons, Mr. Borsch has been a staple of our football program.  As head coach of the Freshmen Team for 35 of those years, he has had 27 winning seasons,  won seven league championships and tied for eight. Mr. Borsch has coached three 9–0 Division Champions. In his tenure, he has also served as head coach of the Sophomore Team and varsity defensive back coach. Mr. Borsch assisted with the 1991 Prep Bowl Champions and the 1995 Varsity Team, which closed its season in the IHSA semi-final game with a record of 12–1–0.

The impact Mr. Borsch has had, and continues to have, on our young men extends beyond the gridiron and into the entire student body. He began his career at Fenwick as an English teacher and in 1972, became the Director of Student Services and Director of College Counseling. Twenty years later, he was appointed Associate Principal. We are very fortunate that these are positions he still holds today.

Mr. Borsch understands that coaching young students is not reserved exclusively for the playing fields. He has worked tirelessly since joining Student Services to see that each and every Fenwick student finds, and is accepted into, the college of his or her choice. Mr. Borsch has guided 45 graduating classes through the college selection process. That is half of all of Fenwick’s graduates. The effect Mr. Borsch has had on our students and out institution cannot be underestimated.

April Newsletter  

Fenwick Hires New As Defensive Coordinator
                       Former St. Viator coach and 8 Time State Champion

Fenwick High School in Oak Park has hired former St. Viator head coach Brandon New as its defensive coordinator. New has 5 years of head coaching experience, the last 4 years at St. Viator in Arlington Heights and one year at his alma mater, Driscoll Catholic of Addison.

As the head coach at St. Viator, New’s clubs had three winning seasons and in his only season at Driscoll he led the Highlander’s to the state quarterfinals. New was also part of the record setting staff at Driscoll that won seven consecutive state titles. As a player, New played for Fenwick coach, Gene Nudo’s 1991 state championship team at Driscoll.

New commented, “Fenwick and Coach Nudo, my former head coach, have provided me a great opportunity to join their football program.  A program that is rich with tradition, plays in the best football conference in the state, and wants to win the right way.  I’m looking forward to helping the young men in the program reach their goals athletically, academically and spiritually.  There is plenty of work to be done to reach our goal, but we will all work tirelessly to get us there.”

Gene Nudo said, “We look forward to Brandon joining our staff, his knowledge and energy will help put our defense and team in a position to succeed. As we did last year, we will face an extremely difficult schedule, facing our usual intra conference opponents including defending state champ Montini, our crossover games with state champs Loyola and ’14 champs Providence, and our non- conference games including defending state champs Phillips. Brandon is a welcomed addition to an already cohesive group of coaches”

Fenwick AD Scott Thies says, “We are excited to have Brandon New join the Fenwick football coaching staff.  Coach New’s head coaching experience will serve to benefit our coaches and most importantly our kids.  We are looking forward to seeing how our defense develops a relentless yet disciplined mindset.”

For any other information call Gene Nudo at 708-386-0127


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Why Football Matters
By John Harbaugh

Football is under attack, but the game and the values it instills in young men are critical to our society. 

The game of football is under attack.We see it every day in the headlines and on the news. The medical concerns are pressing. The game has taken its share of criticism. President Barack Obama said that if he had boys he wouldn’t let them play football. Even LeBron James has publicly said no football in his house.The question is asked over and over:  Why would anyone want to play football? And why would anyone let their kids play? Here’s my answer: I believe there’s practically no other place where a young man is held to a higher standard. Football is hard. It’s tough. It demands discipline. It teaches obedience. It builds character. Football is a metaphor for life. This game asks a young man to push himself further than he ever thought he could go. It literally challenges his physical courage. It shows him what it means to sacrifice. It teaches him the importance of doing his job well. We learn to put others first, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. And we learn to lift our teammates – and ourselves – up together. These are rare lessons nowadays. Football has faced challenges like this before. In 1905, there were 19 player deaths and at least 137 serious injuries. Many of these occurred at the high school and college levels. Major colleges said they were going to drop football because the game had become too violent. That’s when President Teddy Roosevelt stepped in to call a meeting with coaches and athletic advisers from Harvard, Princeton and Yale. He wanted to find a way to make the game safer. They made significant changes, introducing new rules like the forward pass and the wide receiver position. Those changes turned football more into the game we know it as today. We made progress. Rules changed. Society evolved. The game advanced. We’re at another turning point in our sport. The concussion issue is real and we have to face it. We have to continue to get players in better helmets. We have to teach tackling the right way, and that starts at the NFL level. Change the rules. Take certain things out of the game. It’s all the right thing to do. But even with all of that, the importance of football hasn’t changed. In some ways, it’s more important than ever. And I believe the most critical place for football is at the youth and high school levels. For 97 percent of football players, the pinnacle of their careers is the high school game. Few players ever go on to the college level. Even less make it to the pros. For a lot of these kids, it’s not until it’s all said and done, and they look back on it several years later, that they realize the difference the sport made in their lives. They are proud of playing the game. Have you ever met anybody who accomplished playing four years of high school football, and at the end of that run said, ‘Man, I wish I wouldn’t have played’? It doesn’t get said. We know that football players aren’t perfect. Nobody is. But millions of former players, one by one, can recount the life-altering principles they learned from football.

They know the
value of football is the values in football.

That’s why high school football – and particularly high school coaches – play such a vital role in our society. Our football coaches are on the front lines of the battle for the hearts and minds of the young men in our society. The culture war is on and we see it every day. These young men are more vulnerable than ever. How many youth and high school coaches serve as a father figure to their players? How many mothers look to the coaches of their son’s football team as the last best hope to show their son what it means to become a man – a real man? More than we’ll ever know. Coaches teach our young people the lessons of life that very often they learn from no one else. Coaches have the kind of influence in our schools, and with our young people, that is difficult to come by. Billy Graham once said, “One coach will influence more people in one year than the average person will do in a lifetime.” My dad also says all the time that it just takes one person to believe in a young man or young woman to change their lives. I couldn’t agree more. Our culture teaches us to judge an activity by how it’s going to make us feel right now. But football doesn’t work that way. The game challenges and pushes us. It’s often uncomfortable. It requires us to be at our best. Isn’t that what we want in our society? Football is a great sport. Football teams can be, and very often are, the catalyst for good in our schools and our communities. Millions of young men have learned lessons in football that they could only learn through playing this game. Football has saved lives. That is why football matters.