Last week, we brought you a game of the week that may end up deciding the SAC.
This week….we bring you a game of the week that may end up deciding the SAC.
In fact, this game last year did end up deciding the SAC with Homestead’s late stop of a Brenden Lytle goal-line push ultimately being the deciding factor in the conference, even though we didn’t know it yet.
There is a lot in play here with this game. How good is Bishop Dwenger? The Saints have not really been tested yet, so going against one of the SAC’s best is going to really tell us where they are as we near the mid-way point of the season.
THE MAJOR PLAYERS
EBON PERSON, HOMESTEAD
Person hasn’t been talked about enough this year for how seamlessly it seems he has fit into the Homestead defense. Just last week, Person helped set up Homestead for a late-game lead after a monster hit on Carson Clark knocked the ball loose for the Spartans to secure. The game was a loss in the end, but that big moment from Person should have woken everyone up to his strengths. A hard-hitting hybrid linebacker who has always been good at reading the pass game, Person has put the area on notice.
Person does sit fourth on this Homestead team with 14 tackles, but also has two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles to go with it. If Dwenger decides to go with power against power, Person could be a defensive anchor for the Spartans on Friday.
TEDDY STEELE, BISHOP DWENGER
It is hard to say that Steele has come out of nowhere for this Saints offense because there always seems to be a breakout Bishop Dwenger running back that we don’t talk about enough in the preseason. Steele is sitting just under 200 yards rushing in the first three games with four touchdowns to his name. But every game, Steele is building up, getting more touches and churning out more yards. It is safe to say that the Saints are getting more confidence in him daily. es and 99 yards last week.
As teams target teammate KJ Tippmann, Steele has been crucial and his continued development will show us just how good he is. After all, now teams know his strength too so the focus will shift to him more often. Homestead will look to isolate Steele on Friday no doubt, so what can he do to separate himself?
PEYTON SLAVEN, HOMESTEAD
Since the ball got dropped into the hands of this junior, he has done nothing but shine. Slaven has been solid at QB, completing 65.5 percent of his passes through the first three games of the season while sporting one of the best yardage totals in the area, going for 491 yards on 36-of-55 passing. He has big targets to work with as Nate Anderson and Gage Sparrow are both averaging over 70 yards receiving per game, but his field vision continues to improve as he mixes up his passing targets. Slaven is also solid in and out of the pocket, making him a more prolific rusher than Homestead typically has.
Already with some big game experience shortly into his varsity starting career, nerves aren’t something you expect to rattle Slaven on Friday. In a big game that could keep his team in the SAC race or see them fall out of it, not getting rattled is important.
COLIN VANCE, BISHOP DWENGER
Vance has made it a bit of a nightmare for opposing teams to throw this year, leading Bishop Dwenger with two interceptions so far. It is fair to say this player focus should center on the entire Dwenger defensive backfield as Adam Lee and Sam Campbell have done work too, but Vance has been sneaky good as he jumps passing lanes and has really been able to shake up opposing receivers. With four pass deflections and nine tackles to go with his picks, Vance is going to be looking to shine on Friday by rattling one or both of Homestead’s big playmaking receivers.
HOW HOMESTEAD WINS
Limiting errors, especially unforced ones, has to be on the Spartans list as a high priority spot this week. There were some poorly timed errors last week in the close loss to Bishop Luers and it is always clear that Bishop Dwenger pounces on opportunities that are given. Thus far this season, Homestead has been able to do a relatively good job on avoiding turnovers. Peyton Slaven has thrown just two picks in 55 pass attempts and the team has just three offensive fumbles, although one turnover was key late last week against the Knights. The Spartans will need to continue to strive for perfection in every asset against a team that leaves little margin for error.
That said, Homestead also can’t play too tight thinking about avoiding mistakes. This is a team that is playing very well when fast and loose. They need to avoid high-stress levels and let things flow on both sides of the ball. Slaven has weapons and he believes in them, the defense has flourished, forcing five fumbles and combating some really good offenses. Homestead wins this game by finding the right combination of not being too careless but not being too careful either.
HOW BISHOP DWENGER WINS
The Saints just have to lay on Homestead here. Constant pressure is the name of the game and a two-headed monster at running back could apply some of that. Since Teddy Steele has emerged, it makes KJ Tippmann not have to handle the heavy lifting alone on the ground. We still aren’t really sure what to make of Bishop Dwenger’s passing game as it may now be using two quarterbacks regularly. It is a mystery (for now). What we do know is that pretty much every Saints team can limit how often the other team’s offense gets on the field by being run heavy and wearing opposing defenses down over the entirety of the game. While Tippmann, Steele and Aziz Dixon have handled most of the running, Dwenger has used 12 different guys to carry the ball (some in blowouts) so they know they have some depth in that department.
Defensively, the Saints are one of those teams that really work well off each other in the defensive backfield. At the top of their game, there really isn’t a great place to throw the ball. Adam Lee, Colin Vance, Sam Campbell and Cole Carey have all defended the pass very well. It is going to force Homestead to mix things up and with as high powered as the Spartan passing game can be, taking them out of that comfort zone would be big for Bishop Dwenger.
Check back in later today for Blitz’s weekly picks!