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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Michael O'Brien

Brother Rice dominates defensively to take down Maine South

Brother Rice’s Randall Nauden (21) carries the ball through Maine South’s defense. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

There’s a bit of mystery surrounding Brother Rice’s program. Outsiders aren’t sure what to expect from second-year coach Casey Quedenfeld’s team. 

If Friday’s 10-7 win against No. 6 Maine South in Park Ridge is any indication, big things could be ahead for the No. 12 Crusaders. 

“We take pride in not letting people run the ball on us,” Brother Rice junior linebacker Christian Pierce said. “That’s what we are going to do all year. That will keep happening. We are a run-stopping defense.”

The Crusaders held Maine South running back Michael Dellumo to one yard on eight carries. 

Brother Rice senior Ronan Culkin’s 30-yard field goal late in the third quarter was the only score of the second half and provided the winning margin. 

Navy recruit Randall Nauden was the workhorse for the Crusaders’ offense with 32 carries for 110 yards. 

“I knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle,” Nauden said. “There were no easy runs. I don’t think I broke one over 15 yards. Sometimes it is going to be like that and you have to keep digging deep.”

The senior’s two longest runs were 11 and 10 yards. But those difficult, short gains helped keep Maine South’s offense off the field, especially in the second half. 

“[Maine South] had too many plays on offense in the first half,” Quedenfeld said. “We weren’t sustaining drives and getting first downs. We started calling it a little differently in the second half to even out how many possessions they would have in a game.”

Brother Rice junior Cam Rogers was sneakily effective out of the backfield. He had nine carries for 36 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half to tie the game. 

“[Nauden] did a great job of holding on to the football, first and foremost,” Quedenfeld said. “He did a good job of seeing some holes and credit to the offensive line to keep churning themselves and improving from last year.”

Maine South quarterback Jack DeFillipis was injured in the first half. Junior Constantine Coines, who played against Evanston and New Trier last season, stepped in and finished out the game. 

Coines was 4 of 14 passing for 73 yards and one interception. He was effective on the ground, with 11 carries for 97 yards and a 24-yard touchdown run.

“[Brother Rice] did a nice job,” Hawks coach Dave Inserra said. “I’d like to see what happens if we have our quarterback, but that’s just what ifs so we can’t talk about that.”

The Crusaders were expected to play two quarterbacks and did. Senior Ryan Hartz played the first half and was 7 of 15 passing for 71 yards with an interception. Senior Marcus Brown took over in the second half and completed two of his four passes for 30 yards. 

 “We know our identity and we know the track we are following,” Pierce said. “The team knows it, the coaches know it and the parents know it.

Brother Rice (1-0) finished 7-5 last season, losing to Mount Carmel, the eventual Class 7A state champs, in the quarterfinals. All five losses were to elite teams. Quedenfeld, in just 13 games as the Crusaders coach, already has road wins at Joliet Catholic and Maine South. 

“[Maine South] is a great, historical program,” Nauden said. “But we just have to keep getting better each week. The defense stepped up this week but the offense has a lot to work on. It was a decent start for us.”

Both teams have huge games next week as well. Brother Rice travels to Marist for the Battle of Pulaski and Maine South is at Warren. 

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