Winless nonconference slates haven’t stopped Fenwick, McNicholas

Fenwick quarterback Sam Simendinger looks to throw downfield during the first quarter of a Greater Catholic League Coed Division game against visiting Badin last Friday at Krusling Field. The host Falcons won 27-9. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DAVID A. MOODIE
Caption
Fenwick quarterback Sam Simendinger looks to throw downfield during the first quarter of a Greater Catholic League Coed Division game against visiting Badin last Friday at Krusling Field. The host Falcons won 27-9. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY DAVID A. MOODIE

Nonconference play was a winless endeavor for Fenwick High School’s football team and its next opponent, McNicholas.

Both squads have been much more successful since Greater Catholic League Coed Division action began. Fenwick is 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the GCLC North, while McNick is 3-3 overall and 3-0 in the GCLC Central.

“We’ve kind of found ourselves and have come to grips with ‘this is who you are right now,’ ” said Fenwick coach Joe Snively, who will take his Falcons to Penn Station Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“The kids understand what’s happening with us. We’ve got to make sure we’re understanding what’s happening with McNick. We can’t look at their record and say they’re down. Are they as up as they were last year? No, and neither are we. So I call that even. It’s going to be a battle for four quarters. McNick has always been a tough game for us.”

The Rockets, Central champions the last four years, weren’t close in their nonconference games. They lost to Turpin (27-6), Anderson (61-21) and Wyoming (40-10) … the Falcons lost to Anderson 42-41 in overtime.

McNick, like Fenwick, got hit hard by graduation, so nobody was expecting great things right out of the gate in 2016.

“You like to think you’ve got a pretty good culture and the kids are going to kind of just step in and fulfill that culture just as the other groups did,” Rockets coach Mike Orlando said. “But when you’re so young, when you’re dealing with teenagers, what they’re thinking is always a concern.

“Starting 0-3 was tough. And not only starting 0-3, but the way that we were losing games was just not characteristic of what we were used to. We had to be coaches/psychologists/counselors at some points. But we’ve got a good group of kids. They take coaching real well. We’re a long way from saying we’ve arrived, but we are making progress.

“Six weeks ago, if you told me we were going to be 3-3, I would’ve doubted that because we just weren’t playing real well. It’s a testament to their determination and their resilience that we kept on going.”

McNick is passing the majority of the time with senior quarterback Cameron Haynes, who is 129 of 209 for 1,597 yards and 12 touchdowns with four interceptions.

As a team, the Rockets are averaging just 2 yards per carry.

“We were expecting some big things from Cam this year, and he’s come through,” Orlando said. “Up front on the line, it’s been a process. They’re young and inexperiencd, and there is no experience like game-day situations, so it’s taken us a while. I really appreciate the progress they’re making, but at the end of the day, we’re still young and green up there.”

Fenwick is throwing more with senior Sam Simendinger, who put up 217 yards against Badin last week.

“Deep down, they still want to run the football, and we’re going to prepare for that and adjust to any differences that we get,” Orlando said. “They’ve got big, strong kids, just like the Fenwick teams we’ve seen over the last few years. They’re going to get our full attention.”

Simendinger is the Falcons’ fourth quarterback this year. The QB carousel began when senior Alan Nix broke his fibula in Week 3.

Snively said Nix is out of his boot and starting to work out again. Nix will dress against McNick, but won’t play.

“We’re just excited that he’ll get to play some more before his career ends,” Snively said.

Nix moved from cornerback to quarterback when Jimmy Gephart got hurt last season. When Gephart returned, he played in the secondary.

Will Snively stay with Simendinger and return Nix to the defensive side of the ball when he’s cleared to play?

“We’ll come to that when it gets here,” Snively said. “Alan’s commented a couple times that he’s got a lot of other spots he’d like to play, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Saturday’s game

What: Fenwick (2-4, 2-1 GCLC North) at McNicholas (3-3, 3-0 GCLC Central), 1 p.m.

Where: Penn Station Stadium, 6536 Beechmont Ave., Cincinnati

Last meeting: Fenwick won 24-10 in 2015