It could be argued that for the first half of Friday’s Summit Athletic Conference football game between area powers Homestead and Bishop Dwenger, the Spartans were doing a fantastic job of beating themselves.And it could be argued that for the second half of the game, that storyline continued. This would be a night where any halftime adjustments didn’t reverse the self-inflicting nature of Homestead’s play.
But what can’t be debated in wake of the Dwenger victory is this: The Spartans didn’t hand anything to the Saints; Dwenger flat-out beat Homestead – and on its own field, no less.
Dwenger (2-1, 2-1 SAC) took advantage of an endless stream of Spartan gaffes and won easily 35-14."We got what we deserved," Spartan coach Chad Zollman said. "When we play that sloppy against a quality team, we’re going to get beat."
Any reference to the Saints being "a quality team" as recently as two weeks ago would’ve been unlikely. The program had shockingly lost for the seventh consecutive time over two seasons and the Saints’ offense looked sluggish. But following a win over a solid Concordia squad (38-25) last week, and now a beatdown of a Homestead squad that was averaging 50 points per game through the first two weeks of this season, it shows that Saints senior defender Colin Burns’ postgame assessment that Dwenger Football was back, is accurate.
"Our defense has been playing well all season," Dwenger coach Ernie Bojrab said. "It was a matter of coming together and playing the way that we teach those kids to play.
"They want to do everything. They have the type of character, where they can’t do enough for you. They try to do everything, but we tell them ‘Play your position. You’ve got 10 other guys out there to help you.’ They started to do that tonight."
The Saints demonstrated that they can score enough points to hang with teams in the explosive SAC. Dwenger’s defense was very good and it was also opportunistic.
Homestead (2-1, 2-1) aided Dwenger’s cause by throwing interceptions (two), fumbling the ball (four drops with one lost), and bad snaps (two) at critical times (including in the red zone late in the first half). But early in the second half, the theme of the game swayed from the Spartans are losing this game due to mistakes to the Saints are winning this game because of their playmaking capability on both sides of the ball.
Dwenger got big defensive plays from Burns, Amaun Clark and David Obergfell, while offensively; Clark (175 yards gained on a 9.2 yard per carry average) was simply magnificent.
And to make this night even more impressive, Dwenger showed a mental resiliency that was incredibly impressive.
The Saints lost two seniors (Noah Freimuth and Matt Litchfield) to injuries in the first half and both spent the rest of the night on crutches on the sidelines. Yet other players stepped up to fill any voids.
"We didn’t think that this (win) was a big shocker," Bojrab said. "We felt confident coming in. Not that we were overconfident, but we knew who we were and where we were going."
After a disappointing 2014, where Dwenger is going early in the 2015 season is the right direction.
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