CRANBERRY TWP — It is often said that there is no substitute for speed, which is why, for the second straight year, Jack Fennell will figure prominently into whatever success North Catholic’s football team meets with this season.
As a sophomore in 2021, four of his 13 touchdowns came on punt and kickoff returns from an average distance of 76 yards. He totaled over 800 yards from scrimmage as a running back and slot receiver. His production helped North Catholic simply overwhelm most of its opponents.
“Jack’s a phenomenal player, but is also very smart,” said North Catholic coach Patrick O’Shea. “He’ll be a big part of our return game again and I expect him to pick up where he left off.”
Fennell, a resident of Penn Township, will be one of the weapons in North’s new offense as the Trojans switch from a read option to a wide zone scheme.
“I’ll be lining up all over the place,” said Fennell. “I like playing running back and receiver and when I get the ball in my hands, I’m usually able to make something happen. I have trust in myself to do that.”
Last year, he tallied 89 offensive touches (64 carries, 25 receptions). With star Kyle Tipinski, who amassed over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 18 touchdowns in 2021, lost to graduation, Fennell’s opportunities to challenge defenses could increase.
Fennell joined North’s track and field team as a freshman to improve his explosiveness on the gridiron. Last spring, he qualified for the state championship meet in the 100-meter dash and the 4x100 relay.
He is also preparing to start on defense as a cornerback, a task he said he is looking forward to.
Fennell has hopes of playing football at a Division I college. While he possesses impressive speed, it’s not the only trait that can help him get there and, in the meantime, help North Catholic win on Friday nights.
“I rely a lot on my vision, especially on punts and kickoffs, to help me get past guys.
“I spent a ton of time during the offseason in the weight room and got on the field almost every day to get in some type of work.”