Kaleb Brown has it, that special thing that makes you watch sports.
The junior is one of the state’s most talented athletes. He’s lightning quick but his most noticeable asset might be his football player instincts. A 20-yard run he ripped off late in the game was breathtaking. He should have been tackled at the line of scrimmage, but darted and dashed and wound up all the way over on the left sideline, faking out more defenders before finally going down.
Brown had touchdown runs of 56 and 20 yards in No. 3 St. Rita’s 24-17 win against Notre Dame on Friday in Niles. He had 15 carries for 146 yards and caught four passes for 44 yards.
Brown is a top 60 player in the national Class of 2022 and it is easy to see why Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State have all offered him scholarships.
“He’s unbelievable,” St. Rita linebacker Michael Gaughan said. “I’m really proud of him, how he stepped up this season. He was a little nervous last year as a sophomore but he was a leader this year. He’s going to be something special. It’s his team next year and I can’t wait to see what he does.”
Gaughan was all over the field himself, making 20 tackles in the game. Notre Dame (2-4) gave the Mustangs a solid challenge just a week after knocking off Nazareth 10-0.
“I was impressed with them,” Gaughan said. “We knew they were tough kids and well coached and whoever fought the hardest would win. That was just an old fashioned good game.”
St. Rita (5-1) led 17-14 at halftime. The Dons scored on a wild play at the end of the half. Quarterback Vincenzo Ricciardi’s pass was batted into the air two or three times before landing in the hands of receiver Jodan Geroulis, who was on his back in the end zone.
St. Rita held the Dons to just a field goal in the second half.
Ricciardi, a sophomore, was 19-for-37 for 192 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We got off to a slow start this spring and couldn’t put the ball in the end zone,” Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey said. “But defensively we’ve hit the mark in every game except maybe the Marist game. We’re a young team but we play hard.”
Ricciardi connected with eight different receivers. Geroulis finished with four catches for 58 yards.
St. Rita quarterback Tommy Ulatowski was 20-for-34 with one interception. Senior Isaiah Bragg had eight catches for 105 yards.
“Isaiah is the unfound treasure no one knew about,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “He’s our leading receiver. He’s been making plays for us every week. I wish we had played in the fall because he’d have had a shot at college. He has a couple walk on things that could happen.
The Mustangs only loss this season was a 7-4 defeat to Loyola in Week 1. It was the only close game the top-ranked, undefeated Ramblers played all season.
“It sucks to just have the season end like this,” Gaughan said. “We’d be pretty tough in [Class 5A]. And I wish we had played Loyola later in the season so we had our pieces moving more. But at least we had these six games. It was great to play with my brothers again.”