By: John Nee '93
In his 21 years at the helm, St. Rita's all-time winningest football coach, Mr. Todd Kuska '90, has never shied away from any opponent. Although the Mustangs compete in what is widely known as the toughest conference in the state, the Chicago Catholic League Blue Division, that didn't deter Coach Kuska from adding some traditional powers to their non-conference slate in 2018, starting with Joliet Catholic on Friday night on the road followed by Richards in the home opener on Friday August 31st.
The 13-time IHSA state champion Hilltoppers of Joliet Catholic have fallen on hard times the last 2 seasons missing the playoffs both years, but they are primed to turn things around in 2018 as they welcome back 15 returning starters, many of which have been starting since their sophomore year.
St. Rita will take their show on the road tomorrow night to Joliet Memorial Stadium led by senior captains Hayden Ekern, George Western, Quinn Coughlin, Matt Callahan, and Jake Stefanski. The Mustangs are ranked #4 by Pat Disabato of the Southtown Star newspaper. An experienced receiving corps, led by Stefanski along with fellow seniors Mick Doyle, Myles McKatherine and JJ Jackson will allow the Mustangs to air it out more than they have in the past. Add to the mix sophomore Henry Wilson, and St. Rita has the makings of a dynamic passing attack.
Although the Mustangs will be taking to the air more often in 2018, they have always made their mark on the ground, and that will continue with junior Tahrhon Haynes and senior Javon Venson, both track stars for St. Rita in the spring, handling the duties in the backfield. Stefanski also figures to get some carries as well as Coach Kuska finds ways to get the ball to a player who was scoring touchdowns at Gately Stadium against Mt. Carmel when he was a freshman.
An experienced group up-front will make the St. Rita offense go, led by returners Quinn Coughlin, Charlie Allen, and Trevor Tovey while senior Matt Mier will take over the duties at center and newcomer Aidan Lynch will man the right tackle position.
Defensively the Mustangs are led by an experienced secondary, which includes Eastern Michigan commit and 3-year starter Kempton Shine, returning starter and captain Matt Callahan, and returners Kavari Cunningham and Matt Dunleavy.
Senior captain George Western and senior Chris Bruglio will lead the Mustang charge on the line as seniors Quinn Coughlin, Ryan Strelczyk, Kevin Brongiel and Frankie Guaracio will provide depth. Senior Tommy Allen will start at an inside linebacker spot and juniors Tramon Lias, Jack Nolan, and Michael Milton will add punch to the Mustang defense.
All-State kicker/punter Gavin Mottl returns for his 4th season on the Mustang varsity. With a reputation for hitting big kicks, the Mustangs will be in good hands when it comes to special teams in 2018.
Excitement is in the air again at the start of another St. Rita Football season coming off of last year's Class 7A quarterfinals appearance, with 12 returning starters the Mustangs are primed and ready for a big 2018 campaign.