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St. Rita sophomore Ethan Middleton fights for extra yardage against Providence on Oct. 15. Middleton finished with 21 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown in a 35-0 victory. Photo by Jeff Vorva

St. Rita sophomore Ethan Middleton fights for extra yardage against Providence on Oct. 15. Middleton finished with 21 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown in a 35-0 victory. Photo by Jeff Vorva

High School Football: Streaking St. Rita pounds Providence

MIDDLETON scaled

St. Rita sophomore Ethan Middleton fights for extra yardage against Providence Friday night. He finished with 21 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown in a 35-0 victory. Photo by Jeff Vorva

By Jeff Vorva
Correspondent

St. Rita is still back on track.

On Sept. 11, St. Rita’s football team came home after being battered around by Loyola in Wilmette, 37-7. That dropped the Mustangs to 1-2 after suffering a tight loss to Mount Carmel two weeks prior.

In that game, they lost talented running back and wide receiver Kaleb Brown, an Ohio State recruit, to a season-ending injury.

Since that substantial setback in Wilmette, the Mustangs have put together a five-game winning streak including Friday night’s 35-0 home victory over Providence in a Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference crossover victory.

The win guarantees the Mustangs (6-2) will make the playoffs. Playoff pairings will be announced Saturday, Oct. 23. St. Rita visits Notre Dame (3-5) on Friday to wrap up the regular season.

Things weren’t looking so hot after the setback to Loyola, the top-ranked team in Class 8A, according to the Associated Press.

“After the Loyola game, we had a Monday practice and we all came together,” said defensive lineman Djabril McNabb, who was given the ball on offense for the first time in his St. Rita career and scored a 1-yard touchdown against Providence. “We told ourselves that as a team ‘no more losing.’ We gotta keep going and no more losing. The mood has to stay the same.”

Quarterback Tommy Ulatowski, who ran for a touchdown and threw for two more against the Celtics (3-5), said the team had to forget about the losses to Mount Carmel and Loyola and play hard the rest of the way.

“We knew the first three games were going to be difficult,” he said. “After that Loyola game, we got a reality check. Let’s regroup and get back together again and get going.”

They did just that and the defense racked up three shutouts in the five-game streak.

“We fly to the ball — everyone flies to the ball,” McNabb said. “We’re a team. We don’t care who we’re playing. Fly to the ball and make tackles.”

COGS AND KUSKA scaled

Both Providence coach Mark Coglianese, left, and St. Rita coach Todd Kuska were honored before Friday night’s game. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Jake Polselli recovered a fumble and Matt Kingsberry had an interception and Liam Bartos broke up a fourth-down pass attempt in the first half against Providence while the offense piled up 28 points in the first quarter and seven more in the second.

Ulatowski threw a 25-yard score to Nikolas Norton and a 67-yard TD to EJ Nwagnu.

With Brown hurt since Game 1, Kyle Clayton came on strong as running back but at the last minute before the Providence game, he was unavailable because on an ankle injury so they called on Ethan Middleton, the only sophomore listed on the 62-man roster.

Middleton responded with 21 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown and gave Mustangs fans a little glimpse into the future.

There were some honorees before the game.

Mustangs coach Todd Kuska was presented with a plaque in honor of winning hit 200th game the week before — a 44-28 win at Marian Central Catholic in Woodstock. Retiring Providence coach Mark Coglianese was also honored with a plaque.

Former Mustangs baseball standout and Orland Park native Mark Payton, who is in the New York Mets organization, had his number retired before the football game.

PAYTON scaled

Orland Park native and former St. Rita baseball star Mark Payton was all smiles before Friday night’s football game as he had his baseball number retired. Photo by Jeff Vorva

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