St. Rita’s Ethan Middleton rejoices with assistant coach Gus Jones after scoring his second touchdown in a 17-12 victory over Brother Rice on Friday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva

St. Rita’s Ethan Middleton rejoices with assistant coach Gus Jones after scoring his second touchdown in a 17-12 victory over Brother Rice on Friday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pigskin Wrap: St. Rita trips up Rice

Mt. Carmel, Argo, Evergreen Park and Lyons improve to 2-0

By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Longtime rivals St. Rita and Brother Rice had not played each other since the Chicago Catholic League merged with the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

Brother Rice is in the league’s Blue Division while St. Rita is in the Green, and what had been an annual matchup was put on hold beginning with the 2019 season. The two programs likely they won’t meet in 2023.

So, fans of both teams were able to enjoy what is now a rare battle between the two powers on Sept. 2. A defensive play by St. Rita’s Johnny Schmitt in the closing minutes helped the Mustangs to a 17-12 victory over the Crusaders at Doyle Stadium.

“It was great and it was awesome to play them,” said Schmitt, who also had an interception and stopped a two-point conversion in the game. “Those are some of my guys [at Brother Rice] and they played a great game. I have a lot of respect for them. It was just a great game.”

St. Rita coach Todd Kuska’s son, Joey, played alongside many Crusaders players at St. Linus.

“We were open and they were open and I said, ‘We have to get the game going,'” Kuska said about getting the two programs back together.

The Mustangs (1-1), who suffered a 35-3 loss to Mount Carmel in the season opener, found themselves down 6-0 to Rice (1-1) in the second quarter when junior running back Ethan Middleton ran for a 7-yard score with 5:58 left in the first half.

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St. Rita’s Johnny Schmitt made three huge defensive plays in a 17-12 victory over Brother Rice Friday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva

“It was amazing, honestly,” Middleton said. “I was smiling and I was running around the whole field and I saw my boy [offensive lineman Collin] Gerger and I said, ‘Gerger, just lift me up.’’’

Middleton also lifted the team when he added a 28-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Jett Hilding in the third quarter.

Kicker Conor Talty added a 20-yard field goal in the fourth.

The St. Rita passing game that mustered just one yard against Mount Carmel had 98 against Brother Rice.

Schmitt’s three big defensive plays and a huge fourth-down stop by Raymone Saffold and Pat Farrell with 4:15 to play helped preserve the victory.

Brother Rice quarterback Ryan Hartz was 19 for 39 for 192 yards. Hartz found Owen Gorman for a 1-yard scoring pass with 21 secionds left in the third quarter.

Marcus Brown also made some periodic appearances under center and threw a scoring pass to Marty O’Keeffe.

Before the game, the Mustangs honored first responders and presented Chicago police officer and St. Rita alum Danny Golden with a check for $7,600 to the Danny Golden Support Fund. Golden was shot and paralyzed during an off-duty incident in Beverly in July.

St. Rita, which finished second in the state in Class 7A last year, hosts the Associated Press’s top-ranked Class 8A team, Loyola, at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Brother Rice will try to get back on the winning track when it visits Benet on Friday at College of DuPage. Benet is 1-1, with a 21-13 loss to Noblesville, Indiana, and a 24-21 victory against Moline.

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Danny Golden, a Chicago police officer who was shot in mid-July, was one of the first responders honored before Friday’s game against Brother Rice. Photo by Jeff Vorva

SXU

Saint Xavier opened the season by dropping a 57-0 decision to the NCAA Division II University of Indianapolis on the road Sept. 3.

SXU, ranked 11th in the nation in NAIA by the coaches, couldn’t put a point on the board, but senior wide receiver Justin Pringle had 53 receiving yards, 53 kick return yards and 10 rushing yards for 116 all-purpose yards.

The Cougars (0-1) host St. Thomas (Florida) at noon Saturday. The Bobcats dropped a 31-26 decision to Division I Butler on Sept. 3. C’Quan Jnopierre had seven catches for 197 yards in the loss.

 

Catholic League/ESCC

St. Laurence (1-1) christened the new turf at Kavanaugh Field with a 46-0 victory over Brooks in a non-conference battle. Aaron Ball had five carries for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Vinny Enoch, Corey Taubr, Danny Fitzpatrick and Nolan Ryan each found the end zone.

David Coffey gave De La Salle a jolt of confidence with punt returns of 61 and 40 yards in a 49-2 non-conference triumph over North Lawndale for coach Marty Quinn’s first victory. Myles Green has three interceptions this year, including a 59-yard pick against Lawndale.

Nazareth, which was ranked No. 1 in Class 5A by the Associated Press after beating previous No. 1 Kankakee, 2-0, in the season opener, dropped a 27-17 decision to Lemont in Week 2. Lemont entered the game ranked fourth in Class 6A.

Mount Carmel, the No. 1-ranked 7A team according to the Associated Press, whipped Phillips, 44-0.

 

South Suburban Conference

Argo exploded for 29 points in the first half and hung on for a 36-31 non-conference win over Bloom to go 2-0. Johnny Walker had 206 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns and Davonte Evans had a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Evergreen Park topped Carver, 49-8, to move to 2-0.

Reavis (1-1) crushed Chicago Noble/Rowe-Clark 51-14.

Shepard fell to 1-1 with a 23-22 loss to Plainfield East.

 

Southwest Suburban Conference

Sandburg is now in an 0-2 hole heading into Friday’s rivalry game with Andrew after dropping a 15-14 game to Glenbrook South. Christian Evans fired a touchdown pass and Katrell Thompson ran for a 6-yard score.

 

Metro Suburban

Chicago Christian traveled to Ottawa and suffered a 41-0 defeat to Marquette.

Riverside-Brookfield dropped a 35-21 decision to Wauconda.

 

West Suburban Conference

Lyons improved to 2-0 with a 45-0 triumph over Addison Trail.

Morton dropped a 58-7 game to York.

 

Chicago Public League

Kennedy beat Kelly, 32-6, and Curie dominated Solorio, 37-0.

Bogan dropped a 27-6 game to Little Village. Schurz beat Catalyst/Maria, 14-6.

Young beat Goode, 23-0. Gage Park dropped a 64-0 decision to Lincoln-Park.

Highland Park beat Hubbard 49-0. Back of the Yards lost to Noble/Golder 26-6.

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Brother Rice’s Ryan Hartz gets ready for a pass in the Crusaders’ loss to St. Rita on Sept. 2. Photo by Jeff Vorva

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St. Rita’s Ethan Middleton rejoices with assistant coach Gus Jones after scoring his second touchdown in a 17-12 victory over Brother Rice on Friday night. Photo by Jeff Vorva

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