LAST WEEK: The Friars beat Leo 36-8 on the road.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jack Henige, sr., TE, Jacob Keller, sr., QB, Conner Lillig, sr., RB, Sherman Martin III, sr., WR, Brett Moorman, sr., LB, Ellis Taylor, sr., DE, Matt O’Laughlin, jr., WR
GAME NOTES: The Friars are off to an impressive start to the season, and they have the full attention of Loyola head coach John Holecek. “They are one of the best offensive teams and best overall teams we will see this season,” Holecek said. “They are skilled and gifted. They are smart and physical. They also are experienced.” … After going 3-6 to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009, the Friars are undefeated in four games, including two wins against state champions from last season. They beat Class 4A champion Phillips in the season opener and defeated Class 6A champion Montini in Week 3. Fenwick, which has 16 starters back, has outscored its opponents 159-40. “I’m very happy with how we’ve played,” said Fenwick head coach Gene Nudo, who’s in his fifth season. “We’ve been challenged in different ways in our first four games, maybe not as challenged as we will be against Loyola. But the boys have a lot of pride in where they are. They are more seasoned after getting tenderized last year.” … Senior quarterback Jacob Keller, one of nine starters back on offense, is under center for a second season. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder is not only athletic, but has a high football IQ, according to Nudo. “Last year, it took time for him to register what we were doing,” Nudo said of Keller, also a standout basketball player. “Guys are always better in their second year, and that’s proving to be the case with Jacob. It also helps we have two big receivers, a shifty running back and four offensive linemen returning.” … Keller’s targets include senior Jack Henige, a 6-4 tight end, senior Sherman Martin III, a 6-2 receiver, and junior Matt O’Laughlin, a 6-5 receiver. O’Laughlin already has an offer from Central Michigan and has drawn interest from Northern Illinois, Purdue and Vanderbilt, according to Scout.com. Senior Conner Lillig has been the primary ball carrier for the Friars. “We have a lot of playmakers,” Nudo said. “But John is as good of a head coach as there is, so I know he’s figuring something out.” … Senior linebacker Brett Moorman (6-3, 225) and senior defensive end Ellis Taylor (6-3, 225) headline the Fenwick defense. Moorman has an offer from Army, and Taylor has one from New Mexico, Nudo said. “I am interested to see how those guys line up and react to a team like Loyola,” Nudo said. … Fenwick finally has a place to call its own. After playing home games at Concordia and Morton West in recent seasons, the Friars signed a contract through 2026 to play their home games at Triton College. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve dressed at the school and then traveled to play somewhere else,” Nudo said. “It never felt like a home game. Now, we have a place to call our own, and the players love it. There haven’t been many seats available in our three home games. We’ve created an atmosphere people want to be part of.” … Loyola has beaten Fenwick in each of the last two seasons by a combined score of 96-16. Nudo said the Friars need to beat the Ramblers for this game to still be considered a rivalry. But he’s looking forward to the opportunity Friday. “It’s nice to have big games,” he said. “If we are lucky enough to get to [the playoffs], we will have been tested. Loyola is the third state champion from last season we will have played this year. But it doesn’t get any easier for us after this game.”