Hi, my name is Liam Smith. I go to Strake Jesuit, an all-boys Catholic high school in Sharpstown. Though I live in Sugar Land, I commute everyday at 5:30 in the morning for cross country practice. I've run cross country and track ever since my Sophomore year—I'm enjoying my time on Varsity this season. Besides homework and running, I serve as an editor for my school newspaper and literary magazine. I also geek out on college football and basketball every fall and spring. Hopefully, I can combine my fondness of writing and athletics to make some kind of living in the sports journalism world. For now, I'll be writing for the Strake Jesuit Varsity football, basketball and (hopefully) baseball teams this year.
The Strake Jesuit Fighting Crusaders won their seventh consecutive game, a bi-district playoff matchup against the Clear Creek Wildcats by Friday's 48-14 score. Excellent quarterback play complemented this well-oiled rushing attack, while defensive poise made the Crusaders seem like a competitive Big 10 team. Now an unorthodox philosophy, Strake Jesuit continues to succeed with smash mouth football: relying on the run, controlling time of possession, minimizing turnovers and grinding out opponents for wins.
Unlike most of the Crusaders' blowout wins, Clear Creek kept the game close in the first half. After Jesuit's methodical first drive score—led primarily by Dylan Campbell—the Wildcats pieced together a nice one-two punch to begin the game. It started with their quarterback, Andrew Dry, gashing the Crusader defense with multiple QB runs. He found open space on a draw play and was fortunate enough to have a defender yank his face mask. A few plays after that 25-yard gain, Dry rolled out on a bootleg and scrambled for 15 yards. The next play, Clear Creek ran a QB sweep to the near pylon for their first touchdown of the night. The Crusaders then threw an early interception to cornerback Lane Brewster, setting up the Wildcats at the 17-yard line with much anticipation. With the team's maroon and white color scheme, and a number two on his jersey, Andrew Dry Manzieled his way for another score.
A watershed play occurred in the second quarter. William Dickason—now at midfield—dropped back to pass and threw a dangerous ball through Lane Brewster's eager hands and into the arms of his intended receiver, Bryce Palumbo. Palumbo's heads-up catch ended in a 15-yard gain, a first down, and a shift in momentum. Had the Wildcats pounced on the opportunity, they would've had two consecutive drives with short field position. The catch just happened to be a third and long conversion, thus serving as a blow to Clear Creek's psyche. Campbell drove and finished the drive with a one-yard rushing score.
With the game tied at 14, the Wildcats would go three-and-out, and allowed the Crusaders a chance to drive down the field with 3:20 left in the half. Clear Creek forced a punt, so they were now in the driver's seat. But, an ill-timed throw let senior cornerback Camden Terry intercept and return the ball to Jesuit's 40-yard line. William Dickason flipped a screen to Dylan Campbell for 20 yards. Great! A holding call would negate Dickason's 25-yard scramble on the next play. Not great. Jesuit still managed to convert a first down from 2nd and 20. It just had seven seconds left in the half. The next play would serve as a testament to the development of Strake Jesuit's quarterback throughout the season. Dickason dropped back to pass, stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure, got a running start as he heaved a 40-yard pass to the end zone, watched his strike sail towards sophomore tight end Thomas Jewitt with three defenders around him, and saw the ball deflect off his hands into the back of the end zone, where sophomore wide receiver Leland Smith dove and caught the ball as time expired in the half. Whew, what an amazing play to seize momentum going into halftime! It was 20-14 at the half after a missed PAT.
Whatever sensational events occurred in the first half were dulled with the ensuing blowout. Strake Jesuit scored a touchdown on every drive of the second half. The Crusaders' ball control wore out the Wildcat defense. Campbell would rip off chunk plays in the running game, only to set up deeper play action passes. Clear Creek could not muster any offensive rhythm since its defense was stuck on the field for five to seven minutes at a time. The result was untimely penalties, which set the Wildcats behind the chains and forced them into obvious passing downs and subsequent turnovers. Camden Terry almost had a pick-six on a crucial third down, and cornerback Nick Cassapo added another interception to his outstanding total this season. Jacob Psyk and Carson Grimm both had sacks and tackles for loss. Both sides played fundamentally sound football and cruised past any first half woes for a first round victory.
Numbers wise, William Dickason had his most impressive game of the season. Excluding outlier plays, Dickason completed 11 of 16 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Two explosive pass plays would add 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns to his stat line. This is the first time the quarterback has eclipsed 200 passing yards this season. Dylan Campbell had his usual game: 122 rushing yards with a trio of touchdowns, along with three receptions for 61 yards. Senior wide receiver Bryce Palumbo led the team in receiving—two receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown—due to his 68-yard score on a screen.
A similar performance to last Friday's game could give the Crusaders a shot at the Beaumont West Brook Bruins on Friday. The last time Strake Jesuit played West Brook was early in the season. During that outing, Dickason completed a whopping three passes for 19 yards. Now, the senior quarterback's gradual contribution to the ground-and-pound offense has added a crucial second dimension to keeping the team's season alive.
The Strake Jesuit Fighting Crusaders hosted the Brazoswood Buccaneers on Friday. The home team had 460 yards of offense and the visitors left with 52. From this stat alone, one should not gasp in shock when reading about the 52-0 beatdown Jesuit handed the Bucs.
Out of the gate, the Crusaders cruised to a Dylan Campbell rushing touchdown in five plays. Brazoswood responded with the first of eight punts on the night. Strake Jesuit began their second drive with momentum. Junior wide receiver Robert Smith caught a vicious hit from a defender out of bounds, resulting in a 15-yard gain. Yet, false starts and holding calls forced the Crusaders to punt.
Murphy's Law would haunt Brazoswood for the remainder of the game though. Hoping to kickstart their offense, the Bucs ran their trusty inside zone concepts. Junior nose tackle Jacob Psyk had other plans. On a night with two tackles for a loss and two sacks, he also stripped the ball for senior cornerback Denzel Blackwell to scoop it up for a score. The very next drive, one of those tackles for a loss would force Brazoswood's Trace Thompson into a third-and-long situation. The obvious passing down allowed the Crusader defense to sit back in coverage and let senior cornerback Conner Young come up with an interception. Dylan Campbell tallied 40 more yards and another score.
A few minutes later, Denzel Blackwell scored off of a well-blocked punt return. Defensive and special teams touchdowns, it can't get any worse right? Throw in another fumble courtesy of Mr. Psyk and allow senior linebacker Josh Cashiola to pounce on it. Alex May, the backup running back to Campbell, would score the fifth touchdown of his excellent junior season. The Crusaders left the half with five touchdowns and a 35-0 lead. Meanwhile, Brazoswood only had two first downs.
Though momentum was in heavy favor of Strake Jesuit, Brazoswood seemed to find a spark with a 50-yard kickoff return. That spark fizzled into another punt—the broken record would play for the rest of the half.
After Alex May and Dylan Campbell led the Crusaders to a 42-0 lead, head coach Klay Kubiak subbed in his second string. Joel Crawford, a short sophomore running back reminiscent of Darren Sproles, took full advantage of his 14 carries by rushing for 106 yards. Even Connor O'Hara, the junior quarterback recovering from an offseason knee injury, received his first in-game reps of the season. The pocket passer—in stark contrast with the run-and-gun starter William Dickason—immediately impacted the game with a 20-yard passing touchdown. A field goal would make it 52-0.
Through their blowout, the Crusaders played efficiently and successfully. They only had two penalties and two punts. Dylan Campbell averaged 11 yards per carry with 143 yards and three touchdowns at the half. Alex May ran for 93 yards and a score, while Joel Crawford had his breakout performance with 106 yards in late game action. Quarterback William Dickason also finished 7-for-14 for 87 yards. There was not much need for throwing the ball when Denzel Blackwell was scoring touchdowns on defense and special teams.
The Crusaders will have a short week before they play at George Ranch next Thursday. The Longhorns are 4-1 in district play, and the game most likely decides who places second in District 23-6A.