SJ Crusaders Outdueled by Dekaney, Go Down Fighting in 41-38 Loss
By Justin Wang ‘25
SPRING – The Strake Jesuit Fighting Crusaders football team (0-2, 0-0 district) came up just short against the Dekaney Wildcats (1-1, 0-0 district) in a spirited 41-38 loss at Planet Ford Stadium on Friday night, September 2. Every Crusader on the field gave everything he had, and the entire team had reason to keep their heads held high afterwards.
After Jesuit received the opening kickoff, the two teams traded punts until senior quarterback Bryce Fucik’s short pass was intercepted by Dekaney at the Crusader 34-yard line. The Wildcats moved the ball to the red zone, but a stout Jesuit defense held them to a field goal.
On the next drive, the Crusaders faced 3rd and 8 at their own 23-yard line when Fucik found sophomore receiver Cooper Fulbright for a short slant. Fulbright broke up the sideline for 46 yards to put the Crusaders in scoring range, and Fucik capped the drive by finding tight end Chico Holt on a 5-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-3 lead.
Two drives later, a badly shanked Wildcat punt gave the Crusaders excellent field position, which Fucik converted into 6 points on a magical 9-yard scramble, eluding two rushers in the backfield before outrunning the rest of the defense to the left pylon, He closed out the half with a 10-yard scoring strike to senior receiver Bryce Lanier as Jesuit took a 21-18 lead into the break.
Both offenses kept up the pace in the second half, with Fucik connecting in the end zone twice more, once on an 85-yard lob to a completely open Lanier at midfield, and then on a go-ahead 12-yard reception to senior Andrew Parks (Parks’ lone catch of the game) late in the fourth. Holt contributed back-to-back receptions for a combined 41 yards on another drive that ended in a game-tying Owen Rosetti field goal. Eventually, however, Dekaney’s offense came up with a late 2-minute touchdown drive to take a 41-38 lead. 40 seconds wasn’t enough time for the offense to come up with a miracle winner, and the hard-fought battle ended with the Fighting Crusaders just three points short of a win.
Despite the tough loss, there were numerous positives for Jesuit. On offense, Fucik passed for 401 yards, was 21-36, and accounted for 5 total touchdowns (4 passing, 1 rushing) and 3 interceptions (one of them a desperation heave). He also led the team in rushing with 26 yards The Crusaders relentlessly attacked Dekaney’s pass defense with screens, short passes, and intermediate throws, all to good effect. Holt gained 104 yards on 7 catches and one touchdown and Lanier finished with 8 catches for 188 yards and 2 scores. Senior Andrew Parks also added a touchdown.
On the defensive side, senior DB Josh Hebert led Jesuit with 9 tackles, to go with 3 pass breakups. Junior Jackson Priesmeyer had 3 tackles for loss and forced a fumble that was recovered by fellow defensive lineman Graham Drouilhet, who added two sacks. Despite the end result, their fighting spirit never flagged.
Perhaps the best of the three phases of the game for Jesuit was special teams. Senior placekicker Owen Rosetti was a perfect 4-4 on extra points and made his lone field goal attempt of the day, a 36-yarder in the 4th quarter. In addition to his impressive effort on defense, Josh Hebert was magnificent on kickoffs as Jesuit’s return man, routinely moving the ball past the 30 on returns – including a 53-yarder late in the game to jumpstart a touchdown drive – to deliver excellent field position for the offense. Hebert’s blockers constantly opened up holes for him to exploit, and the defense on Dekaney returns was smothering – exemplified by an impressive fourth-quarter tackle by senior defensive back Aden Shields to pin Dekaney inside their own 15.
After the game, Head Coach Donovan Fikac focused on his squad’s toughness and grit, noting that “the boys played hard, the effort was there.”
“The players never gave up, never gave in. We came together as a team, as a family, and that means more to me than a win. If we play with that effort every week, things will start picking up for us.”
As the Crusaders prepare for their first home contest of the season, the annual President’s Tailgate, against Spring High School (1-1, 0-0 district), Coach Fikac is certain that the game will be “a great physical football game.” He also made clear that the student body has a role to play come Friday night: “I encourage the entire student body to come out to Clay Stadium. We need the stands packed and loud, the team thrives on that kind of energy.”
Lastly, a thank you to the parents, away fans, band, trainers, and everyone else who made the long drive out to Planet Ford Stadium to support the team. Your dedication keeps us going in hard times. Jesuit will be ready for Spring this Friday night. Go Crusaders! AMDG.