After navigating the collegiate football recruiting landscape after last season, Marist seniors George Fanelli and Billy Skalitzky came to a decision.

Both had found the perfect college. Now, all the longtime friends had to do was tell the other about the decision.

But, little did Fanelli and Skalitzky know, they had picked the same destination in Ohio to continue their career: the University of Dayton.

“We purposely didn’t want it to be a cheesy moment. We both kind of brought it up asking ‘What’d you think? How’d you like Dayton?’” Fanelli said with a laugh. “We’ve been friends for so long, and it was a great fit for both of us.”

Fanelli, a 6’1”, 245-pound offensive lineman, and Skalitzky, a 6’ 190-pound wide receiver/running back, are both Evergreen Park residents and Most Holy Redeemer (MHR) Elementary School alumni.

They graduated from Marist in May.

As for the Dayton news, they had some fun with it.

“We did purposely post our announcement on Twitter at the same time,” Skalitzky said. “That was planned. We were going live at halftime of the Super Bowl, so were texting back and forth to make sure.”

For the duo, it will be another athletic achievement dating back to preschool.

From driveway basketball at the Skalitzky home to winning a Southside Catholic Conference championship as eighth-graders with MHR football, both went on to standout varsity careers at Marist.

The next chapter of their success story will be with the Flyers, a NCAA Division-I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team.

“It’s going to be different,” Skalitzky said. “We go from being senior captains to being underclassmen. We’re the freshmen. You have to prove yourself. It’s definitely a big chip on my shoulder proving what I can do on the field.”

In his senior year as a focal point of the offense for Marist, Skalitzky finished with 49 catches for 633 yards and 3 TD and 117 carries for 617 yards and 12 TD.

However, at the next level, he’ll be moving to safety, and he’s accepted the challenge.

“I was recruited as a receiver, as an athlete, but that was dependent on how spots filled up with other recruits and where they needed me,” Skalitzky said. “[The move] is based on my athleticism. I didn’t play a lot of defense in high school, but I think I can help wherever they need me.”

Fanelli hopes to fit right in with the Flyers offensive line.

As Fanelli weighed his college options, he said, Dayton had a special pull on him, including memorable advice from Flyers Head Coach Rick Chamberlin.

“I talked to some other schools, but Coach Chamberlin said that you should go to a school you like even if you weren’t playing football,” Fanelli said. “Dayton is non-scholarship, so I’m playing football for the right reasons. I want to play football and enjoy it.”

Marist finished 11-2 in 2018, losing in a Class 8A state semifinal.

Skalitzky, along with fellow seniors Mike Markett, Frank Sheehan and Jimmy Porter, never lost an East Suburban Catholic Conference game in their high school careers as the RedHawks won the conference title in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and they won on the freshman squad in 2015.

“Never losing a conference game, that’s definitely something I’m proud of and will look back on,” Skalitzky said.

As for their next step at Dayton, the close friends will keep on having each other’s back.

“Naturally growing up, we were competitive with each other,” Fanelli said. “Going to college together, that will bring it to a whole other level.”