Welcome to the 11th edition of Mustang Sports Weekly as we recap a huge second-round playoff road win for the varsity football team as well as a busy week for the varsity hockey team.
On Saturday the varsity football team travelled to Sterling, Illinois, to battle the top-seeded Golden Warriors in an IHSA Class 5A second-round matchup. The Mustangs were looking to advance to the quarterfinal round of the IHSA playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons as well as the ninth time in the Kuska era.
St. Rita won the toss and as is customary for them, deferred to the second half. The Warriors, who had entered the game undefeated (10-0) and averaging nearly fifty points per game, received the opening kickoff and quickly found out that the Mustang defense was ready to play as they forced a dominating three-and-out.
The St. Rita offense took the field for the first time with great field position at the Sterling forty-six yard line and wasted no time as sophomore quarterback Tommy Ulatowski hit sophomore running back Kaleb Brown on a wheel route out of the backfield for a touchdown staking the Mustangs to the early 7-0 lead as sophomore kicker Jorge Verduczo added the first of his two PATs to go along with two field goals for the game.
The St. Rita defense played fast and furious all afternoon as they held the Warriors without a first down until late in the second quarter on a controversial pass interference call.
With great field position the entire first half, the Mustang offense struggled after their fast start as they turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions (2 fumbles, 1 INT), but the defense kept bailing out the offense as they forced three-and-outs after each of the turnovers.
Kaleb Brown (24 carries, 245 yds, 2 TDs, 1 catch, 46 yds, 1 TD) showed once again why he is one of the premier backs in the state of Illinois as he scampered fifty-five yards for his second score midway thru the second quarter to give St. Rita a 13-0 lead.
The Mustang defense would force a turnover just before the half near mid-field, and Brown would once again break free getting St. Rita into field-goal range as Verduzco nailed a 35-yd FG as time expired to give the road team a commanding 16-0 halftime lead.
The Mustangs then looked to put away the home team with their opening drive of the second half, but two penalties negated a pair of touchdown runs by Brown, and St. Rita had to settle once again for a field goal and a 19-0 lead.
A Mykhai Harris INT would give St. Rita the ball back immediately deep in Warrior territory as Brown would once again break loose for his third touchdown of the game sending the Mustang faithful who made the two-hour trip west into a frenzy.
Senior running back Jayden Edwards would add the final score on a 12-yard run after senior defensive back Zenin Hall picked off a Warrior pass taking it down inside the Sterling ten. The final score of 32-0 was the Mustangs third shutout of the season, and it marked the first time Sterling had been shut out since 2012.
The Mustangs (8-3) will ride their seven-game winning streak into next week's quarterfinal matchup at Hillcrest (10-1). Game time Saturday in Country Club Hills is 3pm.
The varsity hockey team sandwiched an impressive 5-1 win over previously unbeaten Benet Academy between two tough Catholic League losses (4-2 at home against St. Ignatius on Thursday and 3-2 Sunday at Mt. Carmel). Senior Luke Napleton scored 3 goals and assisted on 2 others for the week while freshmen Jake Malzone added a goal and two assists.
Next up for the "Skating" Mustangs will Brother Rice on Thursday, Marist on Saturday, and Marmion Sunday.
Check back again next week as we recap the varsity football team's quarterfinal game against Hillcrest and the varsity hockey team's three CCL games. Also, be on the lookout for a special in-depth preview of the Mustangs quarterfinal matchup against Hillcrest.