By: John Nee '93
Coming off of a disappointing (3-6) regular season, the varsity football team looked to carry the momentum of a great Prep Bowl run to close out the 2018 season as they hosted the defending Class 5A state champion Joliet Catholic Academy Hilltoppers at Doyle Stadium Friday night in the opener of the 2019 IHSA football season.
The atmosphere was electric on 77th and Western for the home opener as the Mustangs took the opening kickoff and marched 61 yards to pay dirt capped off by sophomore Kalob Brown's 4-yard scamper into the end zone to give the home team the early 7-0 lead.
A 70-yard strike by the Hill on their first play from scrimmage to tie the game at 7 didn't damper the home faithful's hopes as St. Rita would cash in again on their second possession with a 22yd field goal by sophomore George Verduzco. Junior Henry Wilson would add an electrifying interception return for a touchdown to give the Mustangs a 17-7 lead after one action-packed quarter of play.
The score would remain 17-7 heading into the fourth after a scoreless second and third quarter, but the Hilltoppers would convert a Mustang fumbled punt into a touchdown as they cut the deficit to 17-14 early in the fourth.
Sophomore Kalob Brown (16 rushes, 90yds TD, 3 receptions, 70yds TD) would end the defending champs' hopes for a comeback win as he took a short pass from junior quarterback Brian Johnson (10-18, 145yds TD) down the home sideline 57 yards to put the nail in JCA's coffin giving the Mustangs a late 24-14 lead.
Junior linebacker Mike Gaughan would put an exclamation point on the season-opening win with a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown to close out the state's top-ranked Class 5A team 31-14 sending the Mustang Maniacs home excited and chomping at the bit for next week's road opener at 6th-ranked Richards in Oak Lawn on Friday night at 7pm.
The sophomores beat JCA 21-14 in Friday night's opening act, but the freshmen suffered a heart-breaking 14-13 loss at the hands of the Hilltoppers Saturday morning at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
The soccer team picked up right where they left off last season, riding the momentum from the best season in program history to a (3-0) start to the 2019 campaign.
The "Kicking" Mustangs opened the season with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Richards as Chuy Flores, Brendan Breslin, and Julio Walton scored for St. Rita. The Mustangs followed their opening act with a 4-2 victory over ICC Prep as Langston Bedgood, Juan Carlos Sanchez, Breslin and Flores dented the net for the victors.
On Saturday Coach Bob Kellam's '92 veteran squad notched their biggest win of the early season knocking off Brother Rice on the road 2-1 to capture the Markulin Cup behind 2 goals from Bedgood. The Mustangs will next play this evening at home 6:30 against Tinley Park.
The key word thus far for the golf team in the early season has been IMPROVEMENT as they started (1-1) in dual matches and improved from 6th place to 2nd place in their two invitationals. Leading the way for the "Swinging" Mustangs in the early going has been senior Luke O'Grady, juniors Liam McKillop and Tommy Gleason, and sophomore Jonathan Henze.
Check back next week as we recap another exciting week in Mustangs sports as the football team travels to Richards on Friday night and the soccer team hosts Tinley Park and Marmion and travels to Burbank to battle St. Laurence.