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Article updated: 9/2/2013 11:29 AM
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Well-rested St. Francis clobbers Riverside-Brookfield
 

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Well-rested St. Francis clobbers Riverside-Brookfield
  • James Butler of St. Francis scores sprints toward his first touchdown of the first half during a game against Riverside-Brookfield during varsity football Sunday.

    Purchase Photo | James Butler of St. Francis scores sprints toward his first touchdown of the first half during a game against Riverside-Brookfield during varsity football Sunday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  •  Adam Hart of St. Francis works to get out of the grips of Matt Jackson of Riverside-Brookfield during varsity football Sunday.

    Purchase Photo | Adam Hart of St. Francis works to get out of the grips of Matt Jackson of Riverside-Brookfield during varsity football Sunday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  •  James Butler of St. Francis scores his second touchdown of the first half during a game against Riverside-Brookfield during varsity football Sunday.

    Purchase Photo | James Butler of St. Francis scores his second touchdown of the first half during a game against Riverside-Brookfield during varsity football Sunday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  •  Steven Fassnacht of St. Francis scores a touchdown during a game against Riverside-Brookfield, Sunday.

    Purchase Photo | Steven Fassnacht of St. Francis scores a touchdown during a game against Riverside-Brookfield, Sunday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  •  Ryan Benton of St. Francis helps take down Christian Verdin of Riverside-Brookfield during varsity football Sunday.

    Purchase Photo | Ryan Benton of St. Francis helps take down Christian Verdin of Riverside-Brookfield during varsity football Sunday. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 

And on the third day, St. Francis and Riverside-Brookfield did not rest.

Sunday offered closure to the football season opener after two days of postponement due to weather and referee-scheduling difficulties. On a hot afternoon in Wheaton, St. Francis finally, officially, christened its new Kuhn Memorial Stadium with a 35-9 nonconference victory.

Making his Spartans debut in his first varsity game since he was a sophomore at Bartlett, senior running back James Butler ran for 186 yards on 20 carries with touchdown runs of 34, 1 and 65 yards, and he had an apparent 61-yard touchdown run called back on one of St. Francis' litany of penalties.

"I waited for a year, so what's three days," said Butler, who was spelled by backup Steven Fassnacht and fullback T.J. Jackson for another 133 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.

"It felt good," Butler said. "My linemen made it easy on me. I've got to give honors to my O-line (James Kalfas, Mike Riley, Cole Cunningham, Mike Andelbradt, George Turner). This is theirs, this is for them."

It took Butler 3 carries to reach paydirt as a Spartan, taking a pitch right from quarterback Zach Prociuk and turning it upfield 34 yards.

"James is a quality young man, and besides what he does on the football field he just adds so much to our school," said St. Francis coach Greg Purnell.

It seemed the floodgates might open but tenacious defense by Riverside-Brookfield players like Jordan Petronella, Justin Agne and Nico Powell and St. Francis' 14 penalties for 125 yards negated a repeat of last year's 57-12 Spartans win.

On the other hand St. Francis was never in trouble. Fassnacht scored on a 46-yard run early in the second quarter, and after Riverside-Brookfield was forced to punt from its own 14-yard line with 1:43 left before halftime, Prociuk completed 3 passes to set up Butler's 1-yard touchdown run off right tackle Turner for a 21-0 halftime lead.

R-B caught a spark when Agne blocked a punt that rolled through the end zone for a Bulldogs safety, but 4 turnovers -- 2 interceptions in the first half, 2 fumbles in the second -- limited the offense.

"The bottom line is when you turn the ball over as many times as we did especially against a team like St. Francis you're not doing yourself any favors," said Bulldogs coach Brendan Curtin.

Not when Butler's around. Two plays after a St. Francis fumble recovery the 207-pound senior ran the ball up the middle from his own 35, shimmied to lose one defender, stiff-armed another and outran the rest for a 28-2 Spartans lead entering the fourth quarter.

Purnell shifted from his vaunted Wing-T offense to one-back or Pro sets this season. In 220-pound fullback Jackson plus explosive tailback Butler -- with relief by Fassnacht -- he's got the horses to do it.

"It's been a lot of work learning it," said three-year starting lineman James Kalfas, "but they make the job a lot easier."

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