LOMBARD — Senior middle linebacker Michael Krecek has been Fenwick’s leading tackler this season, but that hasn’t always guaranteed success, particularly on a night when the Friars’ offense struggles.
The Friars gained four first downs and had only 85 yards of total offense in the first half of Friday night’s game at Montini. The unit’s ineffectiveness overshadowed the gains made by Fenwick’s defense in recent weeks. That Friars entered the Catholic League Green showdown allowing only 22 points in its last three games.
But three interceptions thrown by two different Friars quarterbacks and an inconsistent passing attack was too much to overcome for Fenwick’s defense. Montini won 24-7 behind sophomore running back Prince Walker’s two touchdowns and 211 yards rushing on 22 carries.
Krecek led Fenwick (5-3, 2-1) again in tackles, while teammate Chris Hawthorne set up the Friars’ only points on special teams in the second quarter when he blocked a punt by Mason Weissenhofer. Hawthorne’s teammate along the defensive line, senior Harry Bell, scooped up the loose ball and scampered 45 yards for a touchdown.
Krecek, along with Hawthorne and Bell, are examples of defensive starters who rarely come off the field for the Friars. Krecek, a La Grange resident, plays on all special teams except kickoff returns and point-after attempts. The 5-11, 200-pound middle linebacker was a backup last season, but has been one of Fenwick’s best defenders this season with more than 60 tackles. He had more than 20 tackles alone in a win over De La Salle Sept. 13.
“He has leadership skills on and off the field,” Fenwick defensive coordinator Titcus Pettigrew said. “He’s willing to treat practice like a game. He has the same intensity in a game compared to what you see in practice.”
A defensive lineman such as Hawthorne is happy to have Krecek backing him up.
“If you’re unsure of what to do, Michael is someone who will fix it on the team,” Hawthorne said. “He is the guy that always has your back.”
Krecek was a standout third baseman and pitched for Fenwick’s Class 3A sectional championship team in the spring. The extended baseball season put him behind in football workouts back in June, but he received permission from football coach Gene Nudo to just focus on baseball at the time.
“It’s a tough balance, but I’m happy I have two coaches that communicate with each other,” said Krecek, also referring to Friars baseball coach David Hogan. “When we were in the baseball playoffs, Coach Nudo let me go to baseball. He knew that it was in season and said it was an important time.”
When Krecek returned to football in the summer, he devoted himself to weight training under strength and conditioning coach Marty Meier. Krecek said he worked out three days a week and ran the rest of the time.
Krecek attributed Fenwick’s defensive resurgence to better communication. The Friars allowed 127 points in their first four games.
“We definitely had a rough start in our first couple of games, but I’ve got 10 other guys to help,” Krecek said. “We also have Scott Stibich, Hawthorne, J-Rod (Justin Rodriguez) and (Aaron) Garland. It’s a team effort.”
- The Broncos (5-3, 2-1) led 17-7 after Indiana-bound Leon Thornton III scored on a 12-yard run with 11 seconds to go in the second quarter. Montini outgained Fenwick 244-85 in the first half.
- Quarterback Scott Moorman (6 of 13, 78 yards) replaced Iowa-bound starter Jack Beneventi (8 of 20, 48 yards) in the fourth quarter. Beneventi also threw two interceptions.
- Pat Donahue finished with 99 yards rushing on 21 carries for Fenwick, with a longest gain of 16 yards.