By: John Nee '93
Following last week's loss on the road to a very good Joliet Catholic team, the varsity football team finds itself in a must-win situation tonight in their home opener against the Richards Bulldogs.
Richards is led by Iowa commit Sebastian Castro, who stars for the Bulldogs on both sides of the football at both quarterback and free safety. Last week, against Class 7A power Lincoln-Way Central, the Class 5A Bulldogs beat the Knights in Oak Lawn by a score of 17-7. Castro had a long touchdown run and a game-sealing interception to lead Richards to the huge opening-night win.
Richards Junior Leshon Williams, one of the top-rated running backs in the state of Illinois, rushed for 186 yards against the Knights and will pose a huge challenge for a Mustang defense that allowed over 400 yards rushing in last week's 30-20 loss to the Hilltoppers, but the return of senior defensive lineman and captain George Western will be key for St. Rita.
The Mustang offense was inconsistent all night in their opener. After taking the opening drive 49 yards for an early 7-0 lead, the offense sputtered for much of the second and third quarters before finding their way again in the fourth with two long touchdown drives.
Senior quarterback Hayden Ekern threw for 257 yards while senior wide receiver/running back Jake Stefanski had 148 total yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run. Contributions from seniors JJ Jackson and Javon Venson, junior Tahrhon Haynes, and sophomore Henry Wilson showed the amount of weapons Coach Todd Kuska has in his arsenal this season.
The last time the Bulldogs and Mustangs met on the football field was in the 1978 Class 5A state playoffs as St. Rita shut out Richards 22-0 at Lane Stadium on their way to the first state football title in school history.
The sophomores, coming off of their thrilling 19-16 win last week will kick off tonight at 5pm with the main attraction set for a 7:30pm kickoff. The freshmen won their game last night at Richards by a score of 41-6 as they were led by quarterback Tommy Ulatowski and running back Caleb Brown.