Fenwick running back Pat Donahue knows he had big shoes to fill this season.
With 2014 graduate Robert Spillane now at Western Michigan, Donahue, a senior from LaGrange Park, has taken over as featured tailback.
While the Friars will miss Spillane, Donahue was solid Friday night in Fenwick’s 31-20 nonconference road victory over Carmel. He rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in Mundelein.
“It’s definitely tough to follow a guy like [Spillane], but it really helped being behind him,” Donahue said. “It was just watching him play, and seeing how he goes about doing things. He rubbed off on me.”
Donahue respected Spillane’s running style. Spillane is a bruising back who loved to run people over, while Donahue was more of a speed guy last year. But Donahue hit the weight room hard during the offseason, increasing his bench press from 180 to 225 pounds, while adding 25 pounds to his frame.
“I think you need to have the ability to run guys over and Robert did that really well,” the senior said. “Looking up to him and all the things he did last year made me want to work harder to get bigger.”
“I kind of compare his running style to Roger Craig,” Friars coach Gene Nudo said of Donahue. “He runs hard with high knees and is not an easy guy to take out. You can see that he has ability and he has great hands out of the backfield. He could play wide receiver for us.”
While Donahue learned plenty from Spillane, Donahue’s older brother Jimmy had an even bigger impact. Jimmy Donahue was a wide receiver for Fenwick who graduated in the spring.
Jimmy Donahue decided to attend Fenwick despite living just blocks from Nazareth. Pat Donahue followed his big brother to the Oak Park school and then learned everything he could from him.
“Jimmy has always been a stud athlete so he’s been an inspiration to me since we were little,” Pat said. “It was always easy for me to look up to him and not just because he’s my brother, but because of the leader he was.”
Jimmy Donahue, who is a student at Indiana, didn’t get to watch his brother’s game against Carmel, but was sure to check out video online and was impressed with what he saw.
“Last year he was nowhere near the running back he is now,” Jimmy Donahue said. “He’s a lot bigger now, even bigger than me and last year we were the same size. It’s tough to follow in Spillane’s footsteps, but he looks really good.”
Fenwick returns to action Saturday against Dallas sister school Bishop Lynch at 1 p.m. Saturday at Concordia.Tags: Fenwick, Fenwick athletics, Fenwick football