Has there been a team that has been handed more hype over the course of seven days than North Side?
The Legends definitely deserve it after a 30-point rout of Snider, but Bishop Dwenger presents a much bigger challenge on Friday. Can North make it 2-for-2 against SAC heavyweights?
Let’s break down this key early-season matchup.
SILENCING THE DOUBTERS
That North Side beat Snider last week was not a surprise, but HOW they did it was. The Legends dominated the game in all three facets, making a perennial power look befuddled and overmatched.
But questions remain. Is North Side that good or is Snider that bad? Friday will be very telling in that regard – both at Chambers Field in this game and over at Carroll for Snider.
STEALING THE MOMENTUM
If North can topple Bishop Dwenger, it immediately becomes THE favorite in the SAC, even over Carroll.
If Bishop Dwenger wins, it becomes the leader in the clubhouse early on for the league.
Amazing that we can be in this position just one week into the year, but here we are.
For North Side in particular, finding a way to beat a pair of teams that shut it out in 2019 would be nothing short of impressive.
WILL THE DUCE BE LOOSE AGAIN?
Snider had zero ability last Friday when it came to containing North Side quarterback Duce Taylor, who set program records with 378 passing yards and five touchdowns last week.
So it is no stretch to see that to slow down North Side, you must contain Duce. The Snider defense did not do much at all to keep Duce from stepping up in the pocket and making throws or taking off to run. Do not expect to see as much freedom and space given to Duce by the Saints.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Duce Taylor, senior, North Side
Duce is the engine that makes the Legends offense run. He is the primary weapon and playmaker for a team that has a lot of options to choose from.
While some will shrug off last week’s record performance due to Snider being young, the fact is that anytime you torch a Panthers defense the way Duce did in Week 1, you have to show respect and take notice.
OLB John Michael Fabini, senior, Bishop Dwenger
The linebackers of the Saints are always the most active for Bishop Dwenger. They can rush the passer, they can seal the edge and they can drop in coverage, sometimes all three on the same play depending on how many LBs are on the field.
Fabini will have a key role Friday in trying to prevent North from breaking the big play in the run game. He had seven tackles, a pair of TFL and two sacks in Week 1, showcasing his versatility.
Fabini will rely on instincts and a sound defensive game plan to attempt to disrupt Duce and the Legends.
LB Lah-Shon Miller, senior, North Side
On offense, Bishop Dwenger will want to control the line of scrimmage, grind out yards and win the time of possession battle to minimize North’s chances to score. The Legends cannot afford to allow the Saints to get comfortable running the football, then taking a chance or two deep off play action.
Miller can play inside and out at linebacker, giving the North defense some versatility at the second level. Last week against Snider, the senior had six tackles, a sack and a pair of TFL. Can he make a similar impact against Bishop Dwenger and help bottle up the Tippmann trio running the football?
QB Brenden Lytle, senior, Bishop Dwenger
The senior signal caller picked apart the Wayne defense last week, throwing as many incomplete passes (four) as he did touchdown passes in the victory.
Lytle has developed over the years and is underrated in the area despite having the ability to make all the throws.
Expect North Side to take some chance defensively bring blitzes and trying to disrupt the Saints and force turnovers. Lytle’s experience will help as he tries to handle that pressure and make good decisions with the ball.
KEYS TO VICTORY – NORTH SIDE
Be confident, but not cocky
Players, fans and coaches are flying high at North following its biggest win over Snider in 32 years. But Coach Brevard and the staff will have to guard against that confidence crossing the line to cockiness.
Last year, Bishop Dwenger beat the Legends twice. So Brevard will not have to dig too deep to find some motivation for his guys.
A key on Friday will be if North Side has hit the reset button and rolls out of the tunnel at Chambers Field focused on making another statement and not coasting into the matchup still living off of last week.
Create for Duce
Bishop Dwenger will present greater challenges to Duce, as well as the North Side offensive lineman. The Saints are experienced and well-disciplined enough to switch between various looks pre-snap and stunts once the play begins.
Coach Jason Garrett’s team is going to try and give Duce a lot to think about, taking away the advantage of being unpredictable, carefree and spontaneous.
KEYS TO VICTORY – BISHOP DWENGER
Pressure in the backfield
This is of paramount importance. Bishop Dwenger has the beef and the talent up front to be a big problem for North Side. Getting those players into the offensive backfield would present a wealth of problems, not just for Duce but also emerging running back Ja’suan Lambert.
Keep mistakes to a mimimum
North Side has the ability to capitalize on opponents’ mistakes. Jaylen Walker recovered a Snider fumble and ran eight yards for a touchdown on the first place from scrimmage last week.
On North’s first offensive play, Duce Taylor hit Jordan Turner for a 71-yard touchdown as Snider defenders ran around confused.
Bishop Dwenger must be locked in every single play or the Legends will hurt them.