Fresh start just what St. Francis ordered
A new day, a new St. Francis football team.
Restarting a game suspended due to lightning Friday, St. Francis on Saturday scored on three of its first four offensive plays from scrimmage. That was the start of a 35-point second quarter for St. Francis that was much different from Friday's first quarter.
St. Francis clinched a playoff berth with a 49-6 triumph over Metro Suburban Blue foe Riverside-Brookfield in Wheaton.
"I don't know if it was them just waking up and playing the football we expected them to play, but they came out and they played extremely well today," St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said.
A little pre-restart film study helped too.
"We saw what was open and we made adjustments," junior wideout Jake Tangorra said. "We saw that they were very aggressive, so our quarterback threw some pump fakes and then we got open."
The game began anew with Riverside-Brookfield (2-5, 0-4) leading 6-0 and 37.2 seconds left in the first quarter. After St. Francis (6-1, 3-1) blocked a Bulldogs punt, St. Francis quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse wasted no time throwing a 42-yard touchdown pass to Tangorra. Just like that the Spartans had the lead.
"It was important to gain momentum," Tangorra said.
They gained a waterfall's worth of momentum. Another R-B punt led to a Joseph Lang 49-yard TD run, this time on the second play of the drive.
After its defense forced yet another Bulldogs three-and-out, St. Francis opened its next possession with a 66-yard pass to freshman wideout Tyler Bishop, and at 6:35 of the second quarter St. Francis led 21-6.
Tangorra and Bishop each caught another TD pass before halftime for a 35-6 lead.
Mike Baffa threw a 20-yard TD pass in the third quarter for Bishop's third score of the game and a 42-6 lead. A Thomas Siurek 66-yard TD catch with 4:08 to play started a running clock.
The St. Francis defense held Riverside-Brookfield to just 135 yards total offense and forced 8 punts. The Bulldogs' only touchdown came with 1:06 to go in the first quarter after Riverside-Brookfield blocked a punt. Luke Gentile scored on a 17-yard run, the Bulldogs' longest play from scrimmage.
St. Francis finished with identical 1-8 records in 2016 and 2017. The Spartans' last playoff appearance came in 2014 when they reached the Class 6A semifinals.