The renewal of one of the state’s best rivalries, St. Patrick vs. Notre Dame, was undoubtedly a major topic of conversation in households, bars and group text chats all over the North Side.
But it is unlikely that anyone was as focused as Linda Ricciardi. Her twin sons are the offensive heart and soul of the Dons. Vincenzo is the quarterback and Francesco is the running back.
“When I woke up on Monday morning my mom had put posters up in our kitchen that said ‘Beat Pat’s,’” Francesco Ricciardi said. “She was definitely really into it.”
The brothers are taking a win home to mom. They combined for four touchdowns to lead Notre Dame to a 35-14 victory against St. Patrick on Friday in Niles.
“I can’t even tell you how she’s going to react,” Francesco Ricciardi said. “But I can’t wait to see her.”
Vincenzo Ricciardi was 10-for-13 passing for 158 yards. He connected with Howard Williamson on a 31-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter that opened the scoring and seemed to set the tone for the game. Ricciardi was also a threat on the ground, scoring three-yard and four-yard rushing touchdowns.
“[Vincenzo] executed really well, especially on our zone reads,” Francesco Ricciardi said. “And our linemen really helped us just keep the ball moving and running it down their throats and wearing them out.”
Francesco Ricciardi had 18 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage,” Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey said. “That’s what really won us the game.”
The Dons had a down season last year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014. But Hennessey’s squad made the most of the postseason it had, beating Kenwood to win the school’s first Prep Bowl.
“Winning begets winning and that was a tremendous confidence builder,” Hennessey said. “And that spurred on a great offseason. We gined some weight and some strength and now we’re sitting real nice.”
The Dons (2-0) led 29-0 early in the fourth quarter.
“[Linebacker] Randy Russ came back from injury and did a tremendous job,” Hennessey said. “Nick Thome and Karl Schmalz both put a lot of pressure on their quarterback. We saw against St. Ignatius when he got loose he was trouble.”
Notre Dame limited St. Patrick quarterback Nick Dustin to nine carries for 34 yards. He was 15-for-27 passing for 98 yards with two interceptions.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Dons. They host top-ranked Mount Carmel next week. Expect Linda Ricciardi to have her boys ready to take on the Caravan.
“Last week after our win she made a team breakfast,” Vincenzo Ricciardi said. “This week she’s planning on a team dinner. She loves the guys and she really does it all for us.”