(Photo Courtesy Jessica Ekern)
(Photo Courtesy Jessica Ekern)

By: John Nee '93

After a disappointing (1-5) start to the season, against arguably the toughest schedule in the state, and the goal of a state-playoff berth no longer attainable, the St. Rita senior class bonded together and decided they were going to leave their mark on St. Rita Football.

                They led the team to 2 wins in the last 3 regular season games to finish (3-6) and then knew the Prep Bowl playoffs was their chance to salvage their careers and allow them to leave as champions.

                On Friday afternoon in front of a great St. Rita crowd at Gately Stadium, the Mustangs accomplished their goal by winning the 89th version of the Chicago Prep Bowl defeating Public League champion Taft 56-6 to finish their season at (7-6).

                While do-overs are not a part of life, the Mustangs proved that they were a quality football team by playing their best football down the stretch with an infusion of young talent from the lower-levels while eliminating the turnovers that had plagued them throughout their (1-5) start.

                On Friday, the Mustangs struck quickly as freshman running back Kaleb Brown took a handoff 37 yards on the 3rd play of the game for a touchdown to give St. Rita the early 7-0 lead.

                Senior all-catholic league defensive tackle George Western provided the next big play taking a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown on Taft's first possession and the Mustangs led 14-0 less than 3 minutes into the contest.

                The seniors would dominate the rest of the half as Jake Stefanski (3-yd run), Javon Venson (37-yd catch), Mick Doyle (10-yd run), Kevin Brongiel (9-yd catch), Zander Schultz (2-yd run), and Frankie Guaracio (1-yd run) all scored touchdowns to stake the Mustangs to the commanding 56-0 halftime lead.

                Senior quarterback Hayden Ekern earned MVP honors for St. Rita by completing all 4 of his passing attempts for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns.

                St. Rita will open the 2019 season at Doyle Stadium against 2018 Class 5A state champion Joliet Catholic.