Brother Rice’s Marquis Jackson takes a fake punt in for a touchdown against Warren on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Gary Middendorf / Daily Southtown)
By Steve Millar
Backup running back Marquis Jackson was recently put on Brother Rice’s punt team and the Crusaders had a fake punt designed for him.
When Brother Rice coach Brian Badke called for the play Saturday night, Jackson realized it was his moment to shine.
“I knew it was the only time I’d get the chance,” Jackson said. “We’re only going to run that play once, because now when teams see me out there they’ll be looking for it. I knew I had to take advantage.”
Jackson, a junior, certainly did that, dashing 42 yards for a touchdown to spark the host Crusaders to a 20-0 win over Warren in a Class 8A quarterfinal.
Brother Rice (12-0) will visit neighborhood rival Marist (11-1) in a semifinal next week. It’s a rematch from Week 1, when Rice won 20-16.
Jackson’s first-quarter run put the Crusaders ahead early, and the junior couldn’t contain his excitement.
“It was too much fun,” he said. “I spiked the ball and got a penalty. I didn’t even know I did that. The crowd was unreal and it was crazy.”
The Crusaders’ defense was typically dominant, recording its sixth shutout in eight weeks to snap a 10-game winning streak for Warren (10-2).
“(Brother Rice) is a really good team,” Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. “Our defense came out tough against them. But when you can’t score in a quarterfinal game, you’re going to have a tough time.”
Defense and special teams helped Brother Rice overcome a slow offensive night as the Crusaders outgained Warren 196-128.
Defensive end Jalen Rheams had a sack and two tackles for loss for the Crusaders.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in ourselves,” Rheams said. “We know if we go max effort, all out, we know we can come out victorious.
“Everybody’s special in their own way on our defense, whether it’s pass rushing or pass defending. We can all do different things.”
After a 21-yard TD pass from John Bean to Anthony Arquilla put Brother Rice up 14-0 in the second quarter, Jessi Plunkett’s 21-yard TD run on the Crusaders’ first possession of the third closed the scoring.
“We wanted to control the ball, run behind our line,” Plunkett said. “Everybody did their job.
“When I got in the end zone, it felt great. I knew that was it. I was like, ‘It’s in the bag now.’”
Plunkett finished with 67 yards on 18 carries, while Dylan Summers ran three times for 45 yards.
Phil Hird completed 9 of 25 passes for 77 yards for Warren. Juan DelaCruz had two sacks and Tavion McCarthy had an interception for the Blue Devils.
“This doesn’t take away from everything we accomplished,” McNulty said. “We won 10 straight games, and that’s never been done in school history. Our seniors worked for every single thing they got and I’m so proud of them.”
While Warren looks ahead to next year, the Crusaders will prepare for a rematch with rival Marist.
“We know those guys on 115th Street,” Badke said. “They know us. We’re really looking forward to it.”
Turnaround experts: Brother Rice goes from 2-7 to 9-0 and top seed in Class 8A playoffs
Joe Fitzgerald remembers the moment like it was yesterday.
Brother Rice had just suffered an embarrassing 49-14 loss to Mount Carmel on Sept. 29 of last season.
The loss dropped the Crusaders to 1-5 and officially eliminated them from the state playoffs.
Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound linebacker, reached for his phone at the start of a disappointing bus ride back to campus.
“The first thing I did was look for the date of when the (Class 8A) state championship game was for this year,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘We’re going to be there.’”
It remains to be seen whether the top-seeded Crusaders (9-0) will be in Champaign on Nov. 24 playing for the 8A state championship. However, there’s no disputing they are one of the favorites to win it all.
The program last won a state title in 1981 in 6A.
Coach Brian Badke’s team will open up its playoff march against 32nd-seeded Zion-Benton (5-4).
“We’re going to learn about Zion-Benton,” Badke said. “All I know is they played Stevenson and Libertyville and they have a tough conference schedule. There are no cakewalks in 8A. To be the No. 1 seed and being the smallest 8A school is a great opportunity for us.”
Hillcrest (9-0) in 5A and Richards (9-0) in 6A also earned top seeds. Lincoln-Way East (9-0) is a second seed in 8A.
It’s been a remarkable turnaround from last season for Brother Rice, which suffered through mounting injuries that resulted in a 2-7 record.
“The kids put in the work to get to this point,” Badke said. “We’ve had great leadership. The seniors were hungry to win after last season. They love football, they love to compete and the want to get better. They’re a special, special group.”
Brother Rice has been unstoppable, registering the program’s first undefeated regular season and outscoring opponents 304-52.
Last season withstanding, success is nothing new to the senior class, which had consecutive 9-0 seasons as freshmen and sophomores.
Senior quarterback John Bean has been the catalyst on offense, along with running back Jessi Plunkett and receiver Dylan Summers. As good as the Crusaders have been, Bean believes their best football is ahead of them.
“Absolutely,” he said. “We’re confident we will continue to get better.”
Rice wasted little time improving upon 2017. No sooner after turning in their equipment did the start for redemption in 2018 begin in the weight room.
“We connected in the offseason,” Bean said. “We were all together working hard for the same goal. The playoffs is what we’ve been looking forward to.”
Fitzgerald isn’t concerned about future playoff opponents, which could include a semifinal battle against either fourth-seeded Homewood-Flossmoor or rival Marist, a fifth seed. He’s confident if the Crusaders play their game, they’re going to be tough to stop.
“Keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We put a lot of trust in each other. That’s a big part of our success. We’re just junkyard dogs, blue-collar kids. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun. We expect to keep going.”
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Brother Rice senior Dylan Summers has committed to Cornell University for Fall 2019. Summers currently plays as a wide receiver for our Crusader football team.
“First off, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play football at the next level. I would also like to thank my parents and siblings for guiding me through this process and the teachers and coaches at Brother Rice for molding me into the man I am today,” said Dylan. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to play division one football and receive an Ivy League education at the best school in the world.”
Brother Rice is very proud and wishes the best of luck to Dylan!
Brother Rice is pleased to announce Sean McBride as the new head baseball coach for our Crusaders. McBride is a graduate of Sandburg High School and St. Joseph College in Renssalear, Indiana, where he earned All Region honors and All Conference honors. McBride has been the assistant baseball coach at Brother Rice for 7 years with 11 years of High School coaching experience.
“I am very excited and thankful of the opportunity to continue coaching at Brother Rice,” Coach McBride said. “I’ve loved my 7 years here as assistant coach because of the great kids, parents and faculty that make this such a special school. I cannot wait to move forward and build on all the success of the Brother Rice baseball program.”
Brother Rice proudly congratulates Sean McBride on his new position and wishes him the best for the upcoming season.
Brother Rice soccer will host tryouts August 8 to the 10 from 3-5 p.m. at Brother Rice High School. All student-athletes intending on playing must register at tinyurl.com/BRSoccerTryout.
Check-in for tryouts will be held at 2:30 p.m. on August 8 at the main entrance to the stadium. Student-athletes must complete ALL REQUIRED PAPERWORK (Brother Rice emergency contact form, pre-participation examination, and concussion & performance enhancing information sheet) prior to tryouts. Paperwork can be found at http://athletics.brotherrice.org/ihsa-forms/ and can be turned in to Coach Prunckle at Brother Rice prior to tryouts.
If you have any questions, please contact Coach Prunckle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tryouts for the 2018 Brother Rice Golf Team will be held at Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood on Monday, August 6, Tuesday, August 7, and Wednesday, August 8. Tryouts will begin at 7:00 a.m. each day. Email Head Golf Coach Mark Krizic at email@example.com with questions.
The frosh/soph track & field team placed 5th in the Catholic League Championship on Friday, May 4. Top performance came from Ronan Dolan, who placed 3rd in the triple jump and 4th in both the long jump & 400. Third place efforts came from Eddie Burke in the 3200; Nehemiah Ray in the 400; and the 4×8 team of Charlie Fitzgerald, Alex MacFarlane, Matt Quattrocchi, & Mikey Corcoran. Willie Shaw had a strong race to finish 4th in the 100.
The varsity team also competed on Friday in the highly talented Thornton Classic. The top performance came from the 4×4 team of Brendan Coghlan, Tommy Gleeson, Leo Staudacher, and Justin Palmer. This Saturday is the varsity Catholic League Championship at Loyola.
The track & field team hosted the 12th Annual Rice Relays on Friday, April 21. The Crusader team finished 2nd in the 10-team field.
Event champions were Tre Gladney, Matt Cegielski, Brian McElligott, and Tommy Gleeson in the sprint medley.
Strong 2nd place efforts came from Dan Spellman in the elite 1600; the distance medley team of Spellman, McElligott, Brendan Coghlan, and Gleeson; the triple jump relay of Nico Perez, Ronan Dolan, Adrian Campos, & Erik Estrada; the 300 hurdle team of Justin Palmer, Charlie Fitzgerald, and Dan Zapata; as well as the frosh/soph 4×800 team of Alex MacFarlane, Mikey Corcoran, Matt Quattrocchi, and Eddie Burke.