As the rain poured over North Dallas last Friday Night, October 23, the Jesuit Rangers stood soaked, victoriously waving the team flag as the few brave fans who fought the rain cheered them on.
The Rangers defeated their rival the W.T. White Longhorns allowing them to remain perfect in district and attain the illustrious saddle.
Due to the torrential downpour the game was postponed almost 80 minutes, but the Rangers did not let that affect them. Head Coach Brandon Hickman said, “With a game with the weather conditions that bad you have to make sure to keep your feet underneath you to keep from slipping and you have to try and block the conditions out because it’s out of our control. We practiced with a wet ball most of the week to try and prepare the kids for it. It was tough to simulate those type of conditions in practice. I was very pleased that we didn’t turn the ball over and focused hard on securing the ball and snaps.”
Right from the start, the Rangers were able to assert their power over the Longhorns. The defense continued their season long dominance and tackled W.T. White in their own end zone for a safety, giving them a 2-0 lead. The defensive skill gives the Rangers a huge advantage by not only preventing the opposing team from scoring but also by giving the offense the ball and confidence to perform well. Quarterback Jacob Palisch ’17 said, “The defense is a huge part of what we do. They give us opportunities. Every game this year they’ve had our backs. We can’t do what we do without them. I mean thinking back on the Skyline game, the defense completely changed the tide with the pick at the end of the first half. It really got the offense going and gave us some confidence. So yes it makes offense a lot easier because we know they are going to give us the chance to succeed.”
The offense did succeed against the Longhorns. Because of the rain, the offense had to focus on the ground game, and they were able to do this well. Palisch was able to find the end zone on the ground three times in the first half. Palisch said that “the weather does affect the game plan. We had to run the ball more as passing became increasingly difficult. But still it wasn’t an excuse. We had to focus, and lock in on the same details, as the weather can magnify the consequence of the small details. Fortunately, we had great snaps all game and the running backs were locked in. They made my job easier.”
Palisch was also able to connect with wide receiver John Wunderlick ’17 for the game’s only touchdown through the air early in the first half. Wunderlick made a terrific catch on an over the shoulder catch right in the end zone. Wunderlick said, “Because it was raining, I had to focus more on the catch, but because Jacob made such a great pass it was easy. Also, we had been practicing with wet balls during the week which allowed me to expect how the pass would come in.”
With touchdowns from Evan Jackson ’17 and Max Loughborough ’16 in the second half, the Rangers were able to extend their lead to 43-0. They rode that lead for the rest of the game and advanced to 7-1 with their fifth shutout of the year.
With only two games left before playoffs, Coach Hickman said, “I feel our team is starting to peak at the right time heading into the playoffs. I’m very pleased with our senior and junior leadership this season. Our guys care about each other and everyone on our team is contributing in a positive way…this season has been a total team effort and our coaching staff has done an excellent job preparing our guys. If we can continue to progress and stay focused our team will be ready to compete in the playoffs.”
Make sure to come out this Thursday Night as the Rangers take on Irving Macarthur. If the Rangers win they can win the district. They need all the support so make sure to travel out to Irving to cheer on the Rangers!