Another week, another monster matchup in the SAC that will go a long way towards deciding who will finish atop the league and claim the Victory Bell.
Homestead wants to keep the bell, and Bishop Dwenger wants it back.
What will take place on Friday night? Let’s take a look.
The last two regular-season championships in the SAC have been captured by these teams – Bishop Dwenger in 2018 and Homestead in 2019. Both squads have the potential to finish atop the league in 2020.
While big games loom for both squads later on in the regular season, this matchup will definitely help the league race come into greater focus.
BATTLE OF THE DEFENSES
Both of these teams sport tremendous defensive units, with only Concordia allowing less points this season in the SAC than these two.
For Bishop Dwenger, the talent is all three levels. John Michael Fabini and Devon Tippmann have been causing some serious havoc at linebacker, with the front line and secondary not too shabby either.
Homestead has amassed 22 TFL and 7.5 sacks in just three games in showcasing its strength.
Which of these defenses shines biggest on Friday?
A WORTHY ADVERSARY
Homestead has knocked off Bishop Dwenger in two of the last three years, including a season ago by a 17-15 final. In that game, the Spartans got out to a sizable lead before the Saints battled back, only to fall short late.
Back in 2017, Homestead drilled the Saints 42-0, the first shutout of Bishop Dwenger in a regular season game in five years.
So while we wouldn’t say Homestead “has Dwenger’s number” so to speak, the Spartans definitely have confidence that they can take down the Saints.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB EVAN ORMSBY, SENIOR, HOMESTEAD
After tossing five INTs through the first two weeks, the senior signalcaller settled down last week, throwing a pair of touchdowns in a win over Bishop Luers without a single pick.
That steady hand and confidence must continue this Friday against the Saints, whose defense is much stronger than that of Luers.
With Bishop Dwenger solid against the run, Ormsby will have to make some throws if Homestead is going to have a shot.
WR ROCCO CIOCCA, JUNIOR, BISHOP DWENGER
Brenden Lytle’s favorite target so far this year has been Ciocca, a big target (6-foot-4) with solid hands that has been a nightmare for defenses.
Ciocca had six catches in each of the first two games of the year. Last week against South Side, he was held to one catch for 41 yards, although the Saints did not pass much.
Ciocca is great at finding an open spot on the field for Lytle to find him. Homestead must identify the junior and react accordingly.
OLB TREY KREINER, SENIOR, HOMESTEAD
Kreiner has been the unsung hero of the linebacker corps for the Spartans. New to the rotation in 2020, Kreiner has made an impact, amassing 20 tackles and four TFL through three games.
Homestead’s linebackers are extremely active, and will be thrust into the limelight on Friday as Bishop Dwenger tries to instill its will in the run game.
Kreiner may be the guy who jumps out at makes some noise.
LB GAVIN GROVES, JUNIOR, BISHOP DWENGER
In a similar vein to Kreiner, Groves has found a much bigger role in 2020 due to spots opening up due to graduation. The middle linebacker has made the best of the opportunities, entering Friday with 15 tackles and an INT.
Similar to Homestead’s defense, the Saints have talent and skill in droves at the linebacker position. While guys like Devon Tippmann and Fabini get accolades for their play, do not forget players like Groves who have showed out in 2020.
KEYS TO VICTORY – HOMESTEAD
The Spartans are going to want to rely heavily on their running game – namely Braeden Hardwick, who is averaging 6 yards per carry through three games.
If Homestead’s talented offensive front can win the battle in the trenches and open up holes consistently for Hardwick, it will take some of the pressure off of Ormsby at QB, who can make some plays through the air without having to put the ball up 20-25 times. Jared Kistler and Nathan Anderson could be big time receiving targets.
KEEP ON RECEIVERS ON THIRD DOWN
If Homestead is able to slow down the Bishop Dwenger rushing attack, Brenden Lytle can move the chains and score TDs with his arm.
We saw it against North Side when the Legends took away the Saints’ running game for the majority of the game. So Lytle went to work, connecting with guys like Ciocca for chunk gains, most of which came on third-and-long situations.
The Spartans cannot afford to relax in the secondary, especially on long-distance downs when Lytle will likely go to the air.
KEYS TO VICTORY – BISHOP DWENGER
STIFLE THE RUN
We referenced it above, but it is an obvious key. Making Evan Ormsby beat them will benefit Bishop Dwenger. It isn’t that the senior cannot do it, but he has yet to have to do it with the offense running so much through Hardwick.
Bishop Dwenger has been extremely stingy against the run. If it can continue that trend, it makes the Spartans have to go to the air more than they would like,
MIX IT UP OFFENSIVELY
Last year, Homestead’s defense showed that it could contain, even shut down, what Bishop Dwenger likes to do best.
That game saw the Spartans contain the Saints on the ground for the majority of the night, keeping Bishop Dwenger off the scoreboard in the middle two quarters as Homestead build up its lead.
Long story short, Homestead knows what the Saints want to do and have the personnel to defend it.
So what can Bishop Dwenger do? Flip the script. Do not be surprised if we see the Saints come out a little more free offensively, perhaps some play-action in the early downs or a trick play or two.
Homestead needs to be ready for anything.