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It was the first taste of competition for two programs coming off very different seasons last year. Bishop Dwenger got to see life after the graduation of several key offensive pieces from its state runner-up squad. Bishop Luers got to see if its team would make last year's winless regular season could be just an aberration. With that in mind here are a few observations from last night's scrimmage at BishopD'Arcy Stadium.
- It's no secret that offensive line play was a constant issue forBishop Luers last year. Quarterback Noah Wezensky rarely had time to step back in the pocket and running backs would sometimes be hit before they had even received the ball on the offensive side. Consider that an issue of the past.
The Knights don't have the largest line, but they showed the ability to give Wezensky time for the most part and created holes for runningbacks to hit. Twice the line held up long enough for Wezensky to throw passes over the top of Dwenger's secondary for 65-yard and 31-yard touchdown passes to Tyrell Johnson and Austin Mack. It wasn't perfect, but the improvement the group showed last line was a drastic upgrade from what it put on the field last year.
“It seems like it would be easy to just throw the ball up to Austin (Mack) and Tyrell (Johnson) out wide, but have to have protection up front and those guys did an outstanding job tonight,” Luers head coach Kyle Lindsay said. “We still have some work to do in the run game and the protection from tonight but we're happy with the progress.”
- The Saints lost plenty of skill players from last year's team, and it showed against the Knights with room to improve. Senior quarterback Cody Miller showed good instincts in the rushing game and when to lateral, but the passing game may take a few weeks before it is producing strong numbers. Miller went 2-for-4 for 17 yards and a touchdown. He makes good choices but expect Dwenger to rely heavily on its run game early in the season while Miller gets his confidence and timing with his receivers down.
- Both Catholic schools are going to be strong on the defensive line and at the linebacker positions this year. Bishop Luers defensive line showed drastic improvement from last year's team, containing Dwenger running backs and getting pressure on the quarterback.
The Saints return all three linebackers from last season and the groupwas stout against the Knights running backs, holding them to 49 yards on 16 carries, with 20 of those coming on one C.J. McCarter carry.This group will have to play well and up to its potential for Dwenger to compete for the SAC.
- Get used to hearing Amaun Clark's name the next few seasons. Bishop Dwenger's sophomore running back showed speed and a good ability to cut and change direction quickly out of the backfield. He was given the ball five times, rushing for 24 yards. His quickness is going to be used often and in a multitude of ways by the Saints as this season progresses.
“Amaun has great potential,” Bishop Dwenger head coach Chris Svarczkopf said. “His best ability is his ability to make cuts and we didn't feature him that regard, but that's what he does best. Coming around as the pitchman tonight, he showed a lot of promise and he played solid defense, too. He did well.”
- Bishop Luers aerial attack is going to be fun to watch. The two long touchdown passes by Wezensky show his skill, and with Mack and Johnson out wide the Knights have a potent passing game. Wezensky finished 5-for-10 for 119 yards and three touchdowns, with two of those incompletions being drops by receivers. If the offensive line plays like it did last night, Wezensky and this receiving tandem could putup massive numbers this season.
- Overall, Bishop Luers looks like a better and more enthusiastic team. This group will not go winless during the regular season this year. The players seem more energetic and excited to be on the field, at least for a scrimmage in week one. Assuming this translates to games that matter, the Knights are going to be back to their usual place toward the top of the conference.
“It's good to see the energy and excitement, the kids running around the field and playing with confidence,” Lindsay said. “We didn't do that last year. When you look at the big picture there was a lot of negativity, a lot of looking and feeling sorry for ourselves last year, and we didn't do that tonight.”