By: John Nee '93
The St. Rita Mustangs (9-3) will host the Boylan Catholic Titans (12-0) on Saturday at 2:30pm with a berth in the IHSA Class 5A State Championship Game on the line. Doyle Stadium, which opened in 1990, will be hosting its fourth state semifinal game (1994, 2003, 2011). The Mustangs also had previously hosted semifinal games at Old St. Rita Stadium in (1985 and 1988). St. Rita Head Coach Todd Kuska '90 has led the Mustangs to five previous state semifinal game appearances going (1-4) in the process.
In 2001, St. Rita travelled to Edwardsville and, after quickly taking a 14-0 lead, eventually fell to the host Tigers 21-14. In 2003, the Wade Weyer-led Mustangs hosted Bloomington losing a tough 20-7 decision to the Purple Raiders. In 2006, the eventual Class 6A state champions travelled to New Lenox for a semifinal game against Providence and a last-second Steve Flaherty field goal propelled the Mustangs to a thrilling 34-31 win over their Augustinian rivals. Kuska would then lead his St. Rita squads to back-to-back semifinal appearances in 2010 (a 20-0 loss at Lake Zurich) and 2011(a heart-breaking 21-14 home loss to current Green Bay Packer Dan Vitale and the Wheaton-Warrenville South Tigers). The Mustangs will be looking to advance to their third ever state championship game, joining the Pat Cronin-led 1978 Class 5A State Champions and the Kuska-led 2006 Class 7A State Champions.
Last week St. Rita travelled to Country Club Hills to battle Hillcrest, and the defense once again dominated the afternoon holding the high-powered Hawks offense to only one touchdown on the way to an impressive 35-8 road win. Sophomore running back Kaleb Brown (23 carries, 135 yards, 2 TDs) continued his torrid pace as he closes in on 2,000 yards rushing and 30 TDs in his all-state season. Sophomore quarterback Tommy Ulatowski added a 17-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Kyle James and senior defensive end Evan Wojcicki (sack, caused fumble) and junior all-state linebacker Mike Gaughan (INT) led the Mustang defense.
The Boylan Catholic Titans (12-0) will be making their first trip to St. Rita in the storied history of their program. Boylan last captured the IHSA Class 7A and 6A State Championships in the back-to-back seasons of 2010 and 2011, the only two state championships in the program's history. They have scored 464 points (39ppg) while allowing only 96 (8ppg). Boylan competes in the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC-10) and they have produced one NFL player in their history, Dean Lowery '12, a defensive end for the Green Bay Packers.
Boylan is led by their quarterback Jonathan Stark who has passed for over 1,500 yards on the season. He also has a trio of quality running backs/wide receivers who will share carries for the Titans, including: Erickton Goodloe, Xavier Bryant, and Dayvion Foreman. The Titan defense is led by senior middle linebacker Daniel Contreras and junior nose guard James Ongtengco. Boylan will employ seven or eight players on both sides of the ball throughout the game, including each of their primary ball carriers. They advanced to Saturday's state semifinal with a thrilling, come-from-behind, home win over Sycamore as Xavier Bryant returned two fumbles for touchdowns, including one with two minutes remaining to win in thrilling fashion 19-16. Boylan would also block a last-second field goal attempt by Sycamore to clinch the victory.
Weather for Saturday afternoon's game is set to be 40 degrees with cloudy skies and little to no wind, perfect weather for a state semifinal game. The winner will advance to next Saturday's IHSA Class 5A State Championship Game at Huskie Stadium on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb at 10am. There they will meet the winner of the south bracket's semifinal game between Mascoutah and 7-time Class 4A state champion Rochester.