Jesuit Football has a history of making a hard non-district, so when we get into district we are ready for all that it has to give. This year is no different, we were originally scheduled for Strake Jesuit, Rockwall, and Austin Westlake, but then the COVID-19 outbreak made us reschedule Strake and Westlake for Flower Mound Marcus and Plano East.
Flower Mound Marcus
On September 25th, Jesuit headed up to Flower Mound to take on a solid Marcus team, led by 4-star LSU commit quarterback, Garrett Nussmeier. It was a hard-fought game in which the Rangers started off slow on both offense and defense, but at the start of the 2nd half turned it up a notch.
Jesuit started the game off slowly dropping down to a 17-0 deficit after two long passes to two different receivers. Then, the Rangers scored after a quick seven-play 75-yard drive to end the first quarter capped off by an electric 27 yard run by Jake Taylor. Then, the defense really started to step up, with back to back turnovers in consecutive drives. First, junior Robert Fitzgerald picked off Nussmeier on a deep shot to the end zone, fighting off the receiver for the ball. Then, after a quick Jesuit turnover, senior captain Jack Judson strip-sacked the QB on a linebacker blitz recovered by junior Lucas Hernandez. The Rangers try to take advantage of the short field but only get a field goal before the half to enter halftime down fourteen, but with the momentum seeming to shift over the visiting Rangers.
The third quarter is a fun one for offensive minds, but a nightmare for defense-oriented people as the Rangers and Marauders combined for 35 points. Started by a five minute Marcus drive for a touchdown, matched by junior Hunter Krepp’s 75-yard touchdown from Gage Roy. Then, the explosive Marcus offense matched the Ranger offense with a quick touchdown of their own. So, the Ranger offense down by 21 marched down the field in a minute forty-one to score off a miraculous throw on the run by Gage Roy to Hunter Krepp again for 35 yards this time. So, the defense had to stand tall, and they forced a quick punt after a tackle force a loss by seniors Sy Mendenhall and Graham Bowers, and a pass break up by Robert Fitzgerald.
The dynamic Ranger offense then took over for the last drive of the third quarter driving for a touchdown capped off by a Jake Taylor touchdown. This put the Rangers down by seven entering the fourth. Sadly, the Marauders offense could not be stopped in the fourth and the Ranger O could not put together any promising drives. Marcus scored ten points in the fourth, so the Rangers lost by seventeen, but the score clearly did not show the intensity and closeness of the game.
The Rangers look promising on both sides of the ball, especially since we had a lot of first-time starters. The offense looked explosive as Gage threw for over 300 yards, and captain Jake Taylor and Hunter Krepp each had a pair of touchdowns. Then, the defense struggled early but really started to get into their groove after the first quarter, forcing turnovers and getting stops. The defense was led by strong efforts by seniors Jack Judson and Major Kent combining 21 tackles and 3 tackles for a loss.
Then the next week on October 2nd, we had our home opener against the Yellowjackets of Rockwall. This week the team started hot in the first half, but a twenty-one point swing in ten minutes at the end of the 2nd and start of the 3rd flipped the momentum of the game.
The Rangers started in a hole early as Rockwall scored quick and then blocked a Parker Brown field goal attempt, but an impressive defensive stop on our 15-yard line gave the Rangers the spark they needed. The offense scored back to back touchdowns first a run by Fitzgerald, then a broken play touchdown catch by Cole Younger. We attempted two-point conversions on both, missing the first, and converting the second with a crafty play call that sprung myself, Ryan Schurr to be wide open for an easy conversion.
Rockwall matched the score quickly, but then the Ranger special teams took scoring into their own hands with a 90-yard kickoff return by Hunter Krepp. Then, we converted another two-point conversion this time on a broken play where Gage found me on the front of the South end zone for a conversion. The defense had another stop, halting a ten-play drive. The Rangers then drove to stall out and kick a field goal, but it was blocked and returned by Rockwall for a score. So, we entered halftime deadlocked at 22 apiece.
The third quarter was a rough one for the Rangers, as Gage Roy threw an interception, and the Rockwall offense exploded for 24 unanswered points. Then, the fourth quarter both offenses matched each other with a pair of touchdowns. The Rangers with an 8 yard rush by Fitzgerald, and a 62 touchdown reception from Cole Younger. And both had two-point conversions to Robert Fitzgerald and Jake Taylor. The Rangers dropped to 0-2 with the 60-38 loss to the Yellowjackets.
Even in the loss, there is still some upside. On offense, Jake Taylor, Robert Fitzgerald, Charlie Clements, and Kyle Heckel looked deadly running the ball combining for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. And then, the deep 62 yard Gage Roy bomb to Cole Younger showed the quick-strike potential of this offense. The defense was put in some tough situations, but the emergence of the safety duo Pierce Jackson and Robert Fitzgerald gives hope of more consistency on defense. Then, the return game looked great, as the Rangers returned a kickoff for the first time in a while.
Finally last week on October 9th, Jesuit Football traveled to Kimbrough Stadium in East Plano to take on the Plano East Panthers. This was a crucial and decisive win led by a great defensive effort.
The Rangers allowed a score on the opening drive to start down by 7. Then, the offense drove for a 13 play 90-yard drive capped off by a miraculous pass from Roy to Cook. Roy was pressured out of the pocket forced to look for any receiver, and senior Charlie Cook took advantage of the soft coverage to get open for the score. Then, after a great kick by Parker Brown and great coverage by the kickoff team, the Panthers were backed up. This allowed Coach Woods to bring the blitzes, and it paid off with a Jack Judson sack in the end zone for a safety, our first of the year.
Then, on offense, we stretched the lead to nine with a 3-yard rushing touchdown from two-way player Robert Fitzgerald. The Panthers scored, and then both teams exchanged punts before the Rangers scored another Fitzgerald rushing touchdown to end the half to take a 23-14 halftime lead.
The second half was a low scoring brawl with a total of 3 points being scored. There was an odd start to the half as the Panthers had to redo the opening kick twice because of penalties. Then, the Rangers drove down the field with ease but were stopped on fourth down within the five-yard line. The Panthers drove down the field but were stopped and forced to kick a long field goal by the Rangers, which he missed. Then, the offense drove and stalled out, and the defense had to take over again. The Panthers drove down the field again, but a crucial Cooper Manning pass breakup forced a field goal to drop the Ranger lead to nine.
The Ranger Offense could not close out the game, so the outcome of this intense game was left up to the defense. The Rangers were pushed back towards their end zone, and they bent, but sure did not break. First, Major Kent stopped a rush at the line. Then, the Panther quarterback was forced to throw an incompletion. Next, a Chase Jackson pressure off the edge forced the Panther quarterback to throw right at our number one corner Cooper Manning, who broke it up. Finally, on the culminating play off the game junior star Robert Fitzgerald had the game-sealing pass breakup to win it.
This is a great win by the Rangers and it is a great way to end the non-district schedule. Being down four key players: Sy Mendenhall, Oscar Jarmon, Tim Brown Jr., and Hunter Krepp and still being able to get a win showed how great the Rangers can be and how deep the team is. The offense was led by an efficient game from Gage Roy, a great game for senior wideout Charlie Cook, a strong running game by committee, and a great performance from the offensive line giving up no sacks. The defense lived in the Panther backfield, pressuring the quarterback all night. Stand out performances by Jack Judson and Graham Bowers led the way, and then Robert Fitzgerald had a great game both on offensive and defense with two rushing touchdowns on O and ten solo tackles and two pass breakups.
Coach Hickman’s analysis
I caught up with Coach Hickman after practice to see how he felt about the Rangers this year, especially after completing the non-district schedule. He told me that in the first two games that we had great halves, but not complete games and that was one reason for the early losses.
And, then the Plano East game is where we put it together and played true complementary football. The offense not having three and outs and costly turnovers helps the defense get rest and get more stops. This allowed the defense to hold the Panthers to a season-low 17 points. Coach also said that the final thirty seconds where the Panthers were in the red-zone, and the Ranger D held them out showed resilience and proved what this team is capable of when we are on our best. Finally, winning the last game before the bye helps improve morale and gets us hot for district.
Preparing for District
After starting the season 0-2, the win last week helped bring up moral and get ready to take on District 7-6a. Football starts its district schedule with JJ Pearce next Friday, October 23rd at home in Postell Stadium at 7 o’clock. The first game of a seven-week stretch of district games in the pursuit of winning the golden football that comes with the district championship.
For the rest of the Jesuit Football path to a 7-6a District Championship and playoff run, stay tuned to The Roundup for more football coverage and information!