When prep football finally comes back in Illinois, Fenwick could be one of the more entertaining teams around.
New coach Matt Battaglia is installing a pass-oriented offense and he has the personnel to make it work.
Start with dual-threat quarterback Kaden Cobb, a 6-3, 180-pounder with Power Five offers from Missouri, Vanderbilt, Boston College and West Virginia.
Then consider his potential targets, who include 6-4, 170-pounder Eian Pugh and 6-3, 200-pounder Max Reese.
Pugh has committed to Top 25 power Cincinnati, while Reese’s offers include Arizona State and Kansas.
Oh, and there’s this: Cobb, Pugh and Reese are all juniors, So if football doesn’t happen this spring, they still will have the chance to showcase their skills as seniors this fall.
This has been a long time coming.
“I grew up with Eian,” Cobb said, “We played kindergarten flag football together.”
“We used to live really close to each other,” Pugh said. “Same baseball and football teams.
“Our chemistry is great, I know where the ball is going to be.”
Cobb likes the depth of the Friars’ receiver group, which means someone is likely to always be getting single coverage.
“There’s going to be a lot of open options,” he said.
The hope was that those options could be explored this school year. While that is still officially on the table, time is running short.
Cobb at least put his downtime to good use.
“Quarantine has been great to me personally,” he said. “I had bunion surgery so I was out till mid-November. ... I thought, ‘Let me get this surgery done. How many times am I going to get six months off?’”
And he was OK with that break. Unlike some quarterbacks, he wasn’t as sold on going to 7-on-7 events to show off his arm.
“I feel it develops a lot of bad habits, especially for quarterbacks,” Cobb said, “Quarterbacks taking one (step) drop, looking at one dude and staring him down.”
Not spending his time on the 7-on-7 circuit is a little easier for Cobb than some others because he’s already on colleges’ radar as a three-star prospect, Even so, he knows he’s missing out on some recruiting opportunities by not playing high school ball in the fall,
“I’m obviously disappointed,” Cobb said. “We feel we missed out on a year.”
At the same time, he isn’t obsessing over the quantity of his offers as opposed to the quality.
“At this point in my recruiting, I’m trying to find a home. I’m not looking to get a hundred offers.”
Pugh also was looking for a home, and feels like he found it with the Bearcats.
“The coaching staff, they always showed me love,” he said. “What sold me was their relationship with my parents.”
And it didn’t hurt that Cincinnati is one of the rising FBS programs, finishing 9-1 and No. 8 in the final AP rankings after a narrow Peach Bowl loss to Georgia.
“Yes, for sure, every kid wants to go to a winning program, no matter who it is,” Pugh said. “That boosted my confidence even more when they were hanging in there with Georgia.”
In the meantime, Pugh can’t wait to see how the Friars can do slinging the football all over the field.
“I’m definitely excited,” he said. “Coach Battaglia’s offense is insane — a whole lot of deep routes. Me, Kaden, Max, Jonas (Capek, a senior receiver), we work our tails off.”
That made it frustrating when Pugh looked at his phone during the fall.
“Some of the hardest nights were Friday nights when we can go on Twitter and Instagram and see other states playing,” he said.
Someday, though, he knows he and his buddies will be back on the field for a real game. And it promises to be fun for both them and the folks watching,