Friars take advantage of southern hospitality

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Fenwick senior running back Robert Spillane appreciates the southern hospitality shown by Bishop Lynch Friday in Dallas.

He just didn’t expect it to extend to the football field.

“They took care of the players and coaches and were very respectful,” Spillane said. “It was basically a first-class trip the whole time. Everything was set up perfectly. They gave us all the water we needed and food after the game. They were very nice to play, but I think they were too respectful on the field.

“That’s not us. When we get on the field it’s time to go to work and we’re not very respectful on the field.”

Fenwick made the journey to Texas to participate in Bishop Lynch’s 50th anniversary game.

Dominican priests from Fenwick helped found and staff Bishop Lynch High School in 1963 when the school was still co-institutional. The two schools share the same nickname, fight song and school colors.

“I never came across a more gracious group of people in my 32 years of coaching,” Fenwick coach Gene Nudo said. “The Bishop Lynch people were wonderful to the fans, the players and the families. We ended up winning and it was a great trip.

“I was in professional football for 22 years (including stints in the Arena Football League with the Arizona Rattlers and the Dallas Vigilantes) and this was as good a trip as I could’ve ever imagined. We were honored to be part of the 50th anniversary game. It was a very gratifying experience.”

The team arrived Thursday and practiced on Bishop Lynch’s field.

The Friars then had a walk-through Friday, watched film during a team meeting and attended Mass before the game.

“I put in NFL film stuff with Dick Butkus and you really find out how old you are when the players can’t relate to Butkus,” Nudo said. “They made me put in Ray Lewis. Some of the kids are football historians. Spillane can tell me every play about Walter Payton.”

Spillane went on to do his best Walter Payton impersonation when he scored three touchdowns in Fenwick’s 32-14 victory.

“We played very well,” Spillane said. “We have momentum and we’re getting better every game. We got better and learned how to fight through a game. We just need to keep improving.”

Fenwick led just 12-7 at halftime, but set the tone for its victory with a huge goal-line stand to end the second quarter, stuffing its opponent four straight times after a first-and-goal from the 1.

The Friars improved to 2-0 heading into Friday’s Chicago Catholic crossover against Brother Rice.

“We learned we could play with any team and gained a lot of confidence,” Fenwick senior captain Richard Schoen said. “It was great being there with my teammates and it was a great bonding experience. We had a lot of time to relax with the team and get to know people we didn’t know as well. Flying out with the team and going to Texas was nice, but we went down there to get the win and we got the job done.”

Nudo, who estimated the crowd included 3,000 fans, believes there was plenty to learn from the trip.

“It was a good team-building experience,” Nudo said. “It was like a college atmosphere. There was a good crowd and it’s a beautiful facility. It was a little eerie to see ‘Friars’ in the end zone and not be on your own field, though.”

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