Fenwick’s offense, defense battered by Loyola

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WILMETTE — Despite Saturday’s 42-0 loss to Loyola, Fenwick coach Gene Nudo said his football team continues to move in the right direction.

“Loyola is one of the best teams in the state, and [the Ramblers] were coming off of a loss, so they were ready to play,” Nudo said of Loyola, ranked No. 15 by the Sun-Times. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them [in the Class 8A championship game] again.

“We are throwing out the Loyola game, but we are going to remember it.”

Nudo’s 2-2 team is three wins from qualifying for the postseason, a place he’s taken the Friars in both of his seasons in charge of the program. It won’t be an easy road back, though, as four of their five opponents have non-losing records.

“We are inconsistent because we are young,” said Nudo, who estimated as many as 15 players were full-time varsity starters for the first time Aug. 29. “But they are learning and all making the effort. I certainly have never felt like they aren’t giving us everything we asked of them.”

Senior linebacker Michael Krecek, who missed time last yeaer with a sprained right MCL and two dislocated left shoulders, is one of the first-year starters. The team’s top tackler, he said the biggest thing the Friars are doing better, at least on defense, is communicating.

“We are talking more, figuring things out,” said the 5-11, 200-pounder, who made 14 tackles Saturday. “Everybody has to be on the same page. It only takes one person not doing his job to hurt us. I don’t think we performed well enough as a group against Loyola.”

The Ramblers, last year’s Class 8A runner-up, exposed some of Fenwick’s weaknesses and showed the Friars they have more room to improve.

Nudo said Fenwick allowed too many big plays on defense Saturday. The Friars surrendered 18 plays or 11 yards or longer through the first 37 minutes.

Offensively, the Friars struggled to run the ball consistently, finishing the first half with minus-7 yards on the ground to go into the break down 28-0.

“We have to stay out of those negative gains on offense,” said Nudo, whose team lost yardage six times in the first two quarters. “We also are giving up more long passes and long runs than any team I’ve ever coached. Whenever Loyola wanted to go deep, [the Ramblers] could. We have better players back there than what the results have been.”

Following Friday’s game against DePaul Prep, the Friars finish the season with the three Catholic Green contests in the final four weeks.

“I feel we are coming along,” Krecek said. “We still are coming to work and going at it hard every day. Doing the little things make the big things happen and big things win games.”

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