Rittenhouse, St. Francis stop IC Catholic Prep
A season ago, St. Francis ended the 33-game winning streak of IC Catholic Prep on its way to a Metro Suburban Blue title.
On Friday night, the Spartans provided a sterling encore.
Behind quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse and a near-flawless defensive effort, St. Francis blanked the Knights 28-0 in Elmhurst in the 2021 season opener.
Rittenhouse, an Illinois State recruit who broke his wrist in the 20-19 win over IC in 2019, passed for 232 yards and three scores while also rushing for 96 yards on 12 attempts.
He opened the scoring with a 31-yard TD strike to Dashiell Dorsey and later found Elijah Lee for a 23-yard score as the visitors led 21-0 at halftime.
"Especially after what happened last year," said Rittenhouse, who was able to return from his injury for the Spartans quarterfinal game last season, "this was a bit of a revenge game for me. I just have so much confidence in this team. We were ready to ball out. It's been way too long without football.
"We just want to go out and have fun. It's my senior year, it's about finishing what we started and that started back sophomore year. This is our third year and obviously it's not ideal but we are thankful for the opportunity to have these six games."
On the other side of the ball, St. Francis held the home team to 10 first downs and handed ICCP its first shutout loss since 2014. The Spartans were able to keep Knights' standout running back Kyle Franklin in check; the senior rushed for 101 yards on 22 carries as he nears 5,000 rushing yards for his career. Ryan Calcagno chipped in with an interception.
"We actually talked about that before the game, a shutout of IC," linebacker Samuel Atkins said, "and it somehow came true. We had so many guys step up. I feel like everything came together tonight and we were able to get things done."
Adam Criter also caught a touchdown pass from Rittenhouse in the fourth quarter while Terreon Roundy found the end zone on a three-yard run.
"We've been looking forward to this day for a long time,‚Ä St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. "We are fortunate to get back on the field. We were prepared, we've been looking forward to this game all year. We know these are two of the best teams in the state in the 4A bracket. We wanted to come out and make a statement and I thought we did that tonight."
Freshman quarterback Dennis Mandala came on in relief to provide a spark for the Knights, completing 6-of-11 attempts for 60 yards.
ICCP coach Bill Krefft pointed the finger at himself after the loss.
"I made a lot of bad calls all game," said Krefft, whose team saw their streak of three consecutive state championships come to an end last season. "I didn't get them ready. The kids fought hard, they were fighting and clawing. But I made some mistakes and put them in bad situations.
"We are going after every game. Every game this year is like a Super Bowl, that's how we are looking at it."