Scouting the St. Francis Spartans
St. Francis is poised for more excitement.
Spartans coach Bob McMillen executed a huge turnaround in 2018, going 8-3 and reaching the second round of the Class 5A playoffs one year removed from a 1-8 season.
Returning 15 starters, prospects look good.
"It's time for them to play with that chip (on their shoulder) or that confidence that every team has out there," McMillen said. "(IC Catholic) plays with confidence because they know they're a very good team. St. Francis has to learn how to do that."
Quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse leads the spread offense, a wily play extender with 4.56-second speed over 40 yards. He zipped 21 touchdown passes to 6 interceptions as a sophomore.
"He's a kid that can make all the throws," said McMillen, hosting games at Wheaton College due to flooding on St. Francis' home field.
Rittenhouse returns his top three receivers by yardage -- Jake Tangorra, Ryan French and Tyler Bishop, who as a freshman led St. Francis with 36 receptions, 443 receiving yards and 8 touchdown grabs. Jackson Gerard, 6-foot-1, adds to the wealth.
The ground game looks sound with returner Jason Klank and Ben Radel, the latter a 2018 All-Area safety with a team-high 91 tackles, 9.5 for loss. Returning starters Ryan Holleman, Joey Mayor and 6-5, 255-pound left tackle Connor Schmidt head the offensive line.
The defensive offers speedy linebackers Enzo Rendina, Nick Imbrogno and Sammy Atkins and a deep secondary including cornerbacks Stefano Bucaro and Eric Welch. Michael Bumpus is a 6-3, 230-pound bruiser who returns 71 tackles; lineman Luke Meyer led St. Francis with 5 sacks.
Last year St. Francis lost to teams a combined 36-4. With a third year in McMillen's system the Spartans aim to take the next step.
"We'll be able to compete with anybody this year, I think, and we just have to go out there, execute, play with that chip and let the cards fall where they may," he said.
One to watch: In Week 8 St. Francis hosts McMillen's alma mater, IC Catholic Prep, at Wheaton College.
Coach: Bob McMillen (third year, 9-11).
2018 record: 8-3, 4-2, third in the Metro Suburban Blue.
Top players: DB Michael Baffa, sr.; WR Tyler Bishop, so.; OL-LB Michael Bumpus, jr.; WR-DB Jackson Gerard, jr.; RB Jason Klank, sr.; DL Luke Meyer, sr.; DB Ben Radel, sr.; LB Enzo Rendina, sr.; QB Tommy Rittenhouse, jr.; OL-DL Connor Schmidt, sr.
-- Dave Oberhelman
Fri, Aug 30, St. Francis at Argo, 7 p.m.
Fri, Sep 6, St. Francis at Shepard, 7 p.m.
Sat, Sep 14, Westmont at St. Francis, 1:30 p.m.
Sat, Sep 21, Wheaton Academy at St. Francis, 12 p.m.
Fri, Sep 27, St. Francis at McNamara, 7:15 p.m.
Thu, Oct 3, St. Francis at Aurora Christian, 7 p.m.
Fri, Oct 11, St. Francis at Riverside-Brookfield, 7:15 p.m.
Fri, Oct 18, IC Catholic Prep at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.
Fri, Oct 25, Aurora Central at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.