Jack Fessler generally doesn’t need gaping holes to find his way down the football field. But they help, no doubt about it.
Fenwick High School’s senior running back got plenty of quality blocking Friday and turned it into a night to remember as the Falcons rumbled to a Greater Catholic League Coed North Division victory.
Fessler ran 19 times for 317 yards and scored three touchdowns for Fenwick, which celebrated homecoming by battering previously unbeaten Chaminade Julienne 34-19 at Krusling Field.
WEEK 7 FOOTBALL COVERAGE
“I’ve got some good blockers,” said Fessler, rattling off the names of his offensive linemen — Craig Schuermann, J.T. Maxwell, Justin Duckwall, Leo Bell and Eric Hendrix. “They were making big holes and allowing me to get to the second level. Once I got there from them blocking for me, I was able to show my speed and get past the defenders and score for our team. That was the best part.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Fessler increased his season total to 1,115 yards. He thought he could perform this year, but admitted he didn’t see it all going down like this after missing the entire 2017 campaign.
“Honestly, I’ve done things this season that I didn’t think I could do,” Fessler said. “Coming back from the knee injury, I was kind of hesitant. I was like, ‘I don’t know how many games I’ll play. I don’t know how well I’ll be.’
“I set a goal at the beginning of the year — it was low — of 50 rushing yards a game. I’ve kind of exceeded my expectations a lot, and I think that’s really helping me think I can get to the next level in my game.”
Because of some incomplete statistics from the early days of the program, Fenwick officials are calling Fessler’s 317 yards an unofficial single-game school record. He totaled 279 yards at McNicholas last week, and that was believed to be the record before Friday night.
Fessler wasn’t a one-man show against CJ. The Falcons piled up 445 rushing yards and earned an overall 533-341 advantage in yardage.
Jacob Ford, Henry Nenni and John Stevenson all recovered fumbles for Fenwick, which boosted its record to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the GCLC North.
“Credit CJ … that’s a great football team. But our players were locked in and focused tonight,” Falcons coach Dan Haverkamp said. “We talked about being banged up and needing guys to rise to the occasion, and I couldn’t be more proud of that group. To win a game like this with everybody we’ve got that can’t go right now speaks volumes to their character and what they’re made of.
“This is the first time I think we’ve really put it together for four full quarters. So hopefully we’ve got to do it for what, eight more weeks?”
The Eagles (6-1, 3-1), ranked second in the latest Associated Press Division III state poll, marched right down the field for a game-opening touchdown run by Quincy Johnson to go up 7-0. Fessler bolted for a 62-yard TD on Fenwick’s first possession, but a mishandled snap led to a thwarted conversion run, and it was 7-6.
CJ went three-and-out on its next drive, and Fessler quickly responded by taking off for a 68-yard touchdown that put the hosts ahead for good.
That’s how Fessler’s night began. Two carries, 130 yards, two touchdowns. In the first seven minutes.
“Again, it’s the linemen,” Fessler said. “They opened up a huge hole on both of them. I got to the second level and I’m just like, ‘These guys aren’t going to catch me.’ I’m trusting my speed, I’m trusting everything. I feel great how I’m doing.”
Logan Miller had seven rushes for 93 yards and a TD for the Falcons, and Sully Janeck hit Thomas Vogelsang for a touchdown.
The Eagles got a 24-of-37, 261-yard performance from freshman quarterback Luke Chandler. He found Colin Downing for a touchdown with 0:05 remaining to make the final margin a bit more respectable.
CJ managed just 80 yards on the ground. Johnson scored twice and had 62 yards on 23 carries.
“I give Fenwick a lot of credit because they came in ready and very hungry,” Eagles coach Marcus Colvin said. “Unfortunately, it just became way too easy for them. They beat us up good. Across the board, they were the better football team. We just didn’t have it in the cards tonight.
“It’s a wakeup call for us to come out here and play the way we did. I’m very disappointed in how we performed, and I take a lot of that too. I don’t know how prepared we were for this game. It’s going to force us to come back to work tomorrow and see how we can right this ship.”
Fenwick has dealt with several key injuries since the preseason and recently added two more when defensive lineman Adam DeBiasi and offensive guard/defensive end Sam Secrest got hurt, and neither played Friday. DeBiasi is done for the season, while Secrest is expected to return at some point.
The domino effect in the lineup prompted Haverkamp to use senior Joe Perrotti at H-back, and the FHS coach said he added to Fessler’s performance with his blocking.
“Perrotti really stepped up in a big way, and for a senior to do that in his first career start, I can’t say enough about him,” Haverkamp said. “He hadn’t really been playing much offense. We put him in this week a little bit because of the injuries and moving guys around and knowing our normal H-back, Carter Earls, had to play a little bit more on defense.”
Fenwick scored on its first four possessions to grab a 27-7 lead midway through the second quarter. Fessler’s rocket-like start gave the Falcons a shot of adrenaline.
“He makes us look really good as coaches,” Haverkamp said. “We would have loved to feed him even more than he got tonight, but after running for so many yards, he was feeling it. But he certainly made the most of his carries.”
CJ caught a break in the third period when the Falcons couldn’t handle a punt and Jason Ward recovered the ball at the Fenwick 6. Johnson scored two plays later to make it 27-13.
“It would’ve been nice to not let them have the late touchdown or the score on the muffed punt,” Haverkamp said. “Our defense played very well. The 19 points doesn’t speak to what they did tonight.”
It wasn’t a perfect night for the Falcons. They got hit with 13 penalties for 125 yards and slipped on a 32-yard field-goal attempt.
Haverkamp said Fenwick will soon turn its focus to next Friday’s Senior Night game against Purcell Marian.
“We’re not going to forget our homecoming game,” Fessler said. “Us seniors, we know we’ve got three more guaranteed games. We’re going to keep it rolling and make them unforgettable for us.”
The Eagles will be at home against McNicholas next Friday. Colvin said it will be a back-to-work kind of week for his squad.
“If you can’t have humility as a football coach, then you need to get out of the business,” he said. “I stand here humbled that we just got outplayed and outcoached. They figured out a way to take it to us.
“But I tell our kids that we don’t shy away from adversity. We’ve been getting our butts rubbed for six weeks … let’s see what kind of character we have. I’m excited about seeing what we can do about getting ready for McNick.”
C: Quincy Johnson 1 run (Jake Staub kick)
F: Jack Fessler 62 run (Run failed)
F: Fessler 68 run (Matt Beckman kick)
F: Logan Miller 65 run (Beckman kick)
F: Thomas Vogelsang 25 pass from Sully Janeck (Beckman kick)
C: Johnson 4 run (Kick blocked)
F: Fessler 68 run (Beckman kick)
C: Colin Downing 8 pass from Luke Chandler (Kick failed)
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