After overpowering the Alvin Yellowjackets 44-14 last Friday night, Strake Jesuit heads into tonight's game against Alief Elsik just one win away from reaching the UIL Playoffs for the fourth year in a row. The Crusaders are coming off a couple of impressive performances on the ground. In the past two games, the halfback duo of Joel Crawford and Alex May have recorded eight total touchdowns, and last week, they both ran for over 100 yards.
While the rushing attack has been on fire for Jesuit, the passing game is featuring younger faces after the loss of Robert Smith due to a season-ending hand injury about a week ago. Starting quarterback Connor O'Hara will look to throw to a talented receiving corps in the junior class. The receiving group consists of Will Taylor (110 receiving yards, one TD vs. Alvin), Holden Maples, Leland Smith, and Thomas Jewett. It's safe to say that the Crusaders will continue to be in good hands next season after the current senior class graduates.
Nonetheless, Strake Jesuit is focused on clinching the last playoff spot in District 23-6A tonight at Crump Stadium. Faced with tougher teams in the district like Pearland, Dawson, and Shadow Creek at the start of the season, the Crusaders started out with a 1-3 district record. They would then go on to pick up two wins in a row against Alief Taylor and Alvin, outscoring those two opponents 79-31. A victory tonight for Klay Kubiak's Crusaders would finish their district play with a 4-3 record. Assuming this outcome occurs, the final district standings will end up with Jesuit in fourth place, one game ahead of Alief Hastings, whom they beat in the head-to-head matchup earlier this season.
Standout player and Harvard commit Jacob Psyk will lead Strake Jesuit on defense tonight. He has experienced the large atmosphere of the UIL 6A Playoffs in his past two seasons when the team went to the second round in 2018 and then the third round at NRG Stadium last year. Wanting to experience that exhilarating energy of the playoffs one last time, and make it further, is what will drive him to help his team gain a win over Elsik.
Alief Elsik is currently riding an 0-5 season record. Regardless of the ease that this game may present for Strake Jesuit, they will not hold anything back as this matchup will present great insight as to how the rest of their season will play out.
The Crusaders' slow start has come as a surprise to many Jesuit fans. Coach Klay Kubiak and the 1-3 Strake Jesuit Fighting Crusaders are looking to bounce back from a tough shutout loss to Shadow Creek last week, as they face Pearland Dawson at The Rig this Friday. This will not be an easy win for Jesuit, the Eagles have started their season a perfect 5-0, with three of those wins within District 23-6A.
The Crusaders' game against Shadow Creek, which was broadcasted live on KUBE-TV Houston as well as the Crusader Sports Network, showed that Strake Jesuit Football has a lot of room for improvement, especially on the defensive side. In the 33-0 loss, the Sharks ran for a total of 280 yards, split between RB's Kelvon Brown (185), Dylan Campbell (39), as well as the Baylor Commit QB Kyron Drones (39). On the offensive side for Jesuit, QB Connor O'Hara could not find many completions, as he went 9/22 for only 64 yards. This week, it will be important for Connor to come as close as he can to his performance against Alief Hastings, which put him in the running for VYPE Houston Football Player of the Week (Week 4). It will also be important for Jesuit to establish a run game early, as both Alex May and Joel Crawford have proven to be strong pieces for this squad.
Although a run to win District 23-6A may be out of the picture for the Crusaders, they will have a good chance to finish within the top half of the District and make the playoffs. After the game with Pearland Dawson, Jesuit will finish their season with home games against Alief Taylor and Alvin, as well as a regular season finale at Crump Stadium against Alief Elsik. As of right now, those three teams have a combined one win, so it seems that Strake Jesuit has already played the toughest games of their schedule.
If the Crusaders come into The Rig motivated by their status as underdogs, as they have many times before, and are able to show that they have made major improvements on both sides of the ball, they may be on their way to an upset win over the Eagles.