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So how good is Cincinnati LaSalle?
“They are undefeated, they are state-ranked and fundamentally really sound,” said coach Chris Svarczkopf, whose team will travel to the Buckeye State Friday to take on the Lancers. “It is going to be a great test for us.”
The Class 4A No. 2 Saints sit at 4-0 and appear to have plenty of momentum heading into the second half of the season.
But before Bishop Dwenger tangles with the likes of Cathedral and Snider in the coming weeks, it will take the long bus trip to play LaSalle, an all-male institution that resides in one of the toughest high school conferences in the country, the Greater Catholic Conference.
The challenges are numerous for the Saints, not least of which is 6-foot-5 wide receiver Derek Kief, who is committed to Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
As a junior last season, Kief caught 65 passes for 907 yards and nine touchdowns.
On the other side of the field is wide receiver and fellow Division I prospect Izaiah Fuller.
The duo makes up the “Twin Towers” for the Lancers.
“Their wide receivers are really, really good,” Svarczkopf said. “We look at this as if it is a championship game. Who knows, this may be the best team we play all year.”
There is no better time than Week 5 for Bishop Dwenger to play a top-flight program such as LaSalle. A win propels the team into the final four games of the season and the playoffs. A loss gives the Saints a month to identify deficiencies before the playoffs begin.
“We are really excited about the timing of this game,” Svarczkopf said.
“Things are starting to click; the kids are starting to understand what we are looking for.”
The Saints had LaSalle on the schedule a few years ago, but the deal fell through.
This year, Bishop Chatard and Bishop Dwenger were not able to arrange their schedules for a meeting, and LaSalle had an open spot in which to play the Saints.
The Lancers will come to Fort Wayne next season to play Bishop Dwenger.
Svarczkopf is not putting much thought into the nearly four-hour drive to Cincinnati, saying the only difference is that the team will have to leave earlier. However, the Saints will dress significantly fewer players than they usually do Friday night.
“We are just dressing about 45 players because of the expense to go down there,” Svarczkopf said. “Our bench will be limited; we are responsible for what we have.”
Some fan buses will also accompany the Saints down south.
The challenges are immense to not only go down to LaSalle, but also emerge victorious. But Svarczkopf and the Saints welcome the challenge.
“We will not get home until the wee hours Saturday, but we traveled over the summer to Bloomington on a school bus, which is like 3 1/2 hours one way, so we're ready,” Svarczkopf said. “This is something we have definitely been looking forward to.”