This was the game that the much heralded Jesuit Crusaders had been needing all year. A total game. Top to bottom they played a really great football game against a feisty Aloha team who tried to hang on through three quarters battling some Key losses to injury.
The early rounds of the game saw some brutal exchanges between both offense and defenses with the linemen on both teams going at it. Several plays we saw helmets pop off and some concerted efforts to pancake and dominate each other. It was in a word "savage" at times. And that is football.
Jesuit's Elliot Nissler managed the QB role really well all night and in uncharacteristic fashion the Crusaders opened the playbook and went to the air as much as they tore it up on the ground. There was balance to this Crusader attack that we have not seen for a while as Nissler hooked up with several Jesuit receivers for long and medium range receptions.
Maybe the first hint we had that this was going to be the Crusaders night was the nifty little Tight End reverse play in the Red Zone during the first quarter as massive Henry Mondeaux took a hand off cutting across the backfield after a fake dive and took the ball 11 yards to the right side for the diving TD. That was with 6:00 Minutes left in the first quarter.
Then the Crusaders rolled.
Crucial injuries to the Warriors did not help as star linemen Michael Kluge went down with a fairly severe knee injury (dislocated knee cap) and in the ensuing play starting Warrior QB CJ Eytel went down with a shoulder injury after being drilled on a 4th and long play by a swarm of Warriors.
Tyner was help to 100 yards and 2 TD's in a night where he was off the field most of the game as Jesuit methodically ground the ball up and down the field. He still impressed with several big time moves and an unbelievable kick return in which he carried half the Jesuit special teams squad 80 yards up the field. He scored two plays later.
Still this night belonged to Jesuit who had the following stand out performances:
- Jesuit Line: Hats off to this squad. They played whistle to whistle and in looking at over 600 still frames we shot we have rarely seen linemen in such great position to block and defend. It's great to have massive size which they have. But many including Jesuit insiders have told us that something had just not clicked in previous weeks. Well if last nights performance is any indication of what is coming next the playoffs could belong to them. Andrew Kirkland, Doug Brenner, David Brugatto, Max Rich, Ryan Brown, and Dominic Baldocchi all impressed all night.
- Joey Alfieri– The 6'2"- 218 beast of an athlete scored through the air and on the ground and was in on countless tackles. He was there for Thomas Tyner on every carry and was laying blows. His athletic prowess was obvious. His toughness in the win was an "X" factor that spread to the entire squad. He was in a word electric.
- Chase Morrison– A 10th grader Morrison is breaking out big time and adding a complete speed weapon to the Crusader arsenal. This is the guy who has stepped up to fill AJ Glasses shoes; one of them anyway. 12 carries for 112 yards a TD and many of his plays kept drives alive for the Crusaders further helping by keeping Tyner off the field.
- Ben Hartmeier- The tough RB had 10 carries for 110 yards of his own adding a really weapon and fresh legs to the assault for the boys of Cronin Field.
- Trent Werner: Trent returned to his duties as a DB and WR and boy was he on. He contained Aloha's Maurice McSwain and had some huge assists as well as made some nifty offensive plays. The kid is back and looked convincing in his return.
- Henry Mondeaux– We said he was going to break out in our pre-game analysis. And with Coaches from Utah, Oregon State, UCLA, and beyond watching he did that. Eye Brows raised as he went for that first TD. More so as he went airborne snagging two or three nice passes. Even more when he picked off a pass from the Middle Linebacker spot. At 6'4"-240 Pounds he was a load to bring down on that return. Then his TD run out of the backfield was evidence that as a Junior the massive TE/DE is making his case. Many of us see this kid as a DE at the Pac 12 level. Fast enough to be a weak side guy out of a three point stance. Reminds us a lot of Taylor Hart from Tualatin who is now starting for the Ducks. So Henry is on our watch list for sure.
- Elliot Nissler- QB Jesuit: He was a solid QB making some nice long and short throws too. His management of the game and ability to work the play action stuff was admirable. For a kid that has not had a lot of starts he gets high marks. There can be no doubt that this is the guy Jesuit needs to lead them through the next few weeks,
The great thing about Aloha is that they are perhaps the best team in the State at getting back to work and regrouping. This loss as much as it hurts sets them up for a comeback against Southridge next week which if they were to win would cause a 3 way tie in the Metro League and that would lead to an Epic Coin toss for seeding.
The Warriors are blue collar kids who built their Championship Team one brick at a time. It was great to see many of their guys on the field last night shaking hands and posing for pictures with their Rivals and Friends. Tyner sat quietly for a few minutes, came by and said hello and smiled, and quietly walked off congratulating Crusaders along the way. In the final analysis this was maybe not such a bad thing. A beat down that ended up 56-13 stings. But it is the getting back up and fighting another day that fuels these guys.
No program in the State has gained so much these past few years and much of that is owed to Head Coach Chris Casey who is now coming into his final few games before heading out to be the Head Coach for George Fox College. And while he was quick to blame the Aloha staff for being out coached it was a night that belonged to the Warriors.
And if you love drama and the anticipation of a big game then this week your going to want to pay attention to the pre-game and the ensuing kick off over at Aloha where the Metro League Championship will be on the line as the Warriors host the Skyhawks in a 7:30 kick off. It's going to be great to watch!
Closing thoughts: We wish a speedy recovery to Kluge and Eytel. These guys are really a big part of the Warrior squad and it just would not be right if they were not able to return. Also it was great to see AJ Glass last night with his Crusader Team and to see him smiling apparently planning a return to the field soon for Jesuit which was in question after he broke his Clavicle a few short weeks ago. And we have to say that Aloha's Brayden Kearsley put on one of the greatest Offensive and Defensive efforts we have ever seen in the Trenches. He certainly did all he could and won most of his battles last night. One guy that we know will rally his team back in the coming days.