St. Francis completes 6-0 season
Tommy Rittenhouse never dreamed that the sixth game of his senior season would be his last as a Spartan.
With a shortened season at hand, Rittenhouse and his St. Francis football team had to throw away dreams of a long postseason run, possibly a Class 4A state championship, and focus on six games.
Rittenhouse made sure to leave his final mark in his final game Friday.
The senior quarterback threw for five touchdowns as St. Francis routed Bishop McNamara, 37-7, to win the Metro Suburban Conference and complete its perfect season.
"I'm just grateful for the opportunity," Rittenhouse said. "We didn't know if these [six] games would even be possible, but we're here now. Six games. Six wins. That's really all I could have ever asked for. It was perfect."
The Illinois State commit couldn't have dreamed a better start to Friday night's game as he took the first snap and found Tyler Bishop on a corner route for an 83-yard touchdown -- the first of two scores for the junior wide receiver.
Rittenhouse finished the night completing 20 of 36 passes for 411 yards and his five touchdown passes. He also ran for 34 yards in the Spartans (6-0) victory. Needless to say, Rittenhouse's presence will be missed within the St. Francis program.
"For what he's done for this program, he's been an absolute game changer," St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. "He put this program on the map. He's put us in the elite status for what he's done for this program over the last three years. I don't think I can thank him enough."
Someone who has had as close up of a look at Rittenhouse over the last few years is assistant coach Doug Difusco.
The long time football coach's job became a lot easier calling plays with Rittenhouse under center.
"You honestly get used to it," Difusco said of Rittenhouse's big numbers. "It becomes the expectation that he's going to do it each and every night and it shouldn't be that way. He does things that you just don't anticipate ... he's so good at what he does and the way he improvises when things break down is something you can't call a play for or can't teach."
Rittenhouse had touchdown passes of 64, 14, 59, and 32 yards, the final of which was the last career touchdown pass to Bishop, a teammate of Rittenhouse's since grade school.
"Tommy is the reason I came to St. Francis," said Bishop, who tallied 142 receiving yards Friday. "We've played football together since third grade. He's mean the world to this program and the world to me individually."
Rittenhouse and the Spartans would have had a shutout to cap off their perfect season, but Bishop McNamara (3-2) got a late score from Manny Harris (24 carries, 101 rushing yards) with 6:52 remaining.
Seniors Jackson Gerard and Elijah Lee, and junior Dashiell Dorsey were the other recipients of Rittenhouse's touchdown passes in Friday's win.
When asked to describe what the St. Francis football program has meant to him, there was one word that came to mind. It wasn't the long touchdowns or the big statistical nights. It was one simple word.
"Family," Rittenhouse said. "That's it. This program is a family form coaches, teammates and staff all the way down. We all have love for each other and that's why we've been successful. I'll never forget my time here."