The 2023-24 Herald Cup: No. 3 IC Catholic Prep (tie)

Editor’s note: Now that the high school sports year is over, we devised a points system based on team state finishes to measure which of the 85 high schools from the Daily Herald circulation area had the best athletic year in 2023-24. We’ll announce the top five small schools this week, one per day, starting with No. 5 on Monday through No. 1 on Friday. The top five large schools will be revealed next week.

Led by the girls volleyball team’s second-place Class 2A finish, IC Catholic Prep was a force throughout the prep sports calendar year — football, girls volleyball, boys wrestling, softball.

The Knights finished tied with Montini for third in the 2023-24 Herald Cup standings for small schools with 60 points that were calculated by weighing team finishes throughout the fall, winter and spring.

How they did it

Tying St. Francis for the CCL/ESCC Orange title, Knights football (9-3) reached the Class 4A quarterfinals. In the 2A girls volleyball championship, ICCP (36-4) fell in two sets to Breese Mater Dei.

Individually in wrestling ICCP produced eight state medalists and two champions. ICCP (9-5) was but a 32-29 sectional loss to Montini from making the 2A dual team state finals.

Top-seeded ICCP softball (28-6) outscored three sectional opponents 63-12 until eventual 2A runner-up North Boone beat the Knights 5-3 at the Benedictine University supersectional.

Who made it happen

The football team had many stalwarts, J.P. Schmidt, Foley Calcagno, Kaleb Ellis, K.J. Parker and Nathen Omolo among them. Running back Joey Gliatta was the CCL/ESCC offensive player of the year and an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association 4A all-state pick. Quarterback Dennis Mandala earned honorable mention.

A Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 outside hitter who graduated early to attend Penn State, Ava Falduto and senior setter Lucy Russ were Illinois Volleyball Coaches Association first-team 2A all-state picks.

At 215 pounds, senior Mikey Calcagno (51-4) won a 2A individual state wrestling title, his second. Junior Deven Casey (34-4) won his first, at 120 pounds.

All-area shortstop Analisa Raffaelli earned Illinois Coaches Association 2A first-team all-state honors. Freshman Lexi Russ, Lucy’s sister, earned second-team mention and two more freshmen, Kelly Cahill and Ariana Zito, were third team.

Key stats

Gliatta ran for 1,295 yards and scored 23 touchdowns and 142 points. A three-year starter for the Knights, Mandala finished with 6,725 yards passing with 78 touchdown passes to only 17 interceptions.

Falduto recorded 370 kills and 342 digs, second on ICCP volleyball to libero Alyssa Lawton’s 360 digs. Russ had 801 assists.

According to MaxPreps, Raffaelli was fourth in the nation with 67 stolen bases. She hit .653, 10th in the state, with a slugging percentage of 1.336 and an OPS of 2.070. Lexi Russ hit .569 and set a program freshman hits record with 66.

Key fact

Rick Bertenshaw was a busy man in his first year as IC Catholic Prep athletic director in 2023-24. Plus, ICCP will start a boys volleyball program in the upcoming school year.

They said it

“I controlled my position and capitalized on his mistakes … Last year was tough because I tore my ACL, but I got it done this year.” — Mikey Calcagno after pinning Rochelle’s Kaiden Morris for his second state title.

“We have some good freshmen coming in, (pitcher) Maddy (Dinino) is only a sophomore, but yeah, Analisa (Raffaelli), she’s the best player that’s ever come out of IC. The best player that I’ve coached by far.” — Knights softball coach Frank Reaber after the supersectional loss to North Boone.

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