Homecoming Game Preview
Liam Smith ’20, Sports Editor
It’s that time of year again. Take the girl you have that one class with, have your friend set you up, or God forbid, straight up ask a girl to this year’s homecoming dance.
After you schedule your limousine ride, meet your date’s parents, network with friend groups for parties and find a suit you wouldn’t mind sweating through, all you’ll need to stress over now: whether our D-Line can get enough pressure on Pearland’s QB. “Yeah but like, I’m not a sports/football fan, why should I care about something so specific to that game?”
First, we need you in those bleachers by 7:00 pm on October 19 in order to provide the maximum emotional support for our football team—the same team which has the most potential to boost statewide respect for our athletic programs.
Second, if you absorbed the Strake vs. Hastings Game Recap (click here if you haven’t), you’ll notice some peculiar phrases sticking out in the mud. Phrases like “40 yard strike,” “up the seam,” and “lob over the defender”—all against our defense of course. Hastings had a dual-threat quarterback, who found comfort rolling out of the pocket to make throws. Had his arm been stronger and more reliable, we could have lost that game. All of this being said, Strake Jesuit should have a good chance to beat Pearland.
Pearland boasts the ‘best passing offense’ in our district; our 3-4 defense will be waiting to compete. Watching tape, I noticed Pearland’s QB—JD Head—has a bulkier build. He’ll take three steps out of the pocket and gun the ball down the field; but he won’t gas the defense with 7-yard scrambles out of bounds on the regular.
One shouldn’t fear Pearland’s offense solely on stats, though. They’ve beaten up on lesser teams like Alief Taylor and Elsik 28-0 and 52-0 respectively. In other other words, if our sturdy secondary holds up against this ‘high-powered’ offense, it will only be a matter of time before the D-Line gets the edge.
“What about defending the run?” Pearland has relied heavily on their QB’s arm compared to their running back’s legs. Here is an instance where stats do lie. Pearland has 1596 passing yards and 1425 rushing yards. However, when you’re up by four touchdowns and the other team has zero points, most of your team’s rushing yards are earned during garbage time (when the game doesn’t matter and both teams are waiting for the game to end). With our 3-4 scheme, our defense is made to stop the run. Strake’s linebackers improved vastly since the 200 yard rushing game Elsik had a two weeks ago by holding Hastings to merely 15 rushing yards on 20 carries.
Stop the run->Force Pearland to pass->Drop 8 guys into coverage->Pearland QB waits longer to find open man->QB generally won’t run->Defense gets sacks
Some interesting offensive stats within UIL Class 6A football (the whole league):
- Strake Jesuit ranks 27th in average team rushing yards per game (we split carries between two backs)
- Every single team ranked above us in team rushing yards per game has more attempts than we do (we have 186, everyone else has >200)
- We are more productive/efficient running the ball than most other teams
- Our average yards per carry is 8.2. The average of the previously mentioned teams’ average yards per carry is around 7-7.1
- We are ranked 11th in rushing touchdowns
- Of all the teams that have 20+ rushing touchdowns, we have the fewest carries
Here’s how our offense compares to others in our district
6A Region III District 23 Offensive Scoring Leaders
Unfortunately, defensive yardage stats are harder to come by with high school football. The only thing Pearland’s defense has proven: not giving up garbage time touchdowns. Now, that could be a mentality instilled in their corps. The offenses they were playing could have been that bad, or Pearland has a fearsome defense. Every team who has played Strake Jesuit seems to come with a leaner speedy defense as opposed to being bulky and physical. There hasn’t been an answer for the 6’5” Megatron, Nathaniel Beal. There hasn’t been an answer for the two-headed monster composed of Michael Wiley and Dylan Campbell. Our QB, Michael Hansen, has a .690 completion rate with only 1 interception on the year. Whoever Pearland’s defense is, the city of Houston is going to find out Friday.
“So what’s to sweat right? You make it sound like Pearland is just a pretender and Strake’s the best team in—” Well, these are all inferences. Stats can only tell so much; in high school football, intangibles run rampant. In the Hastings game, our offense had multiple fumbles, drive-killing penalties, and drops that hindered our production. This Friday, our football team will have this emotional environment to play in as they look to elevate their status as one of the top teams in Houston. Our defense will have to plug the middle against the run, and our offense will need to avoid mistakes of execution.
It’s homecoming. Show up early, meet with your friends, give your date your jacket, give a quick thank you to the volunteers furiously working the concessions, enjoy the band’s performance, arrange some meet-ups after the game, but most importantly, don’t forget why you’re there in the first place–to cheer your team to victory.