It was just three weeks ago the Brebeuf Jesuit Braves (11-3) were in position to win their first-ever Sectional championship, which lead to a 42-21 victory over Tri-West Hendricks. It was just two weeks ago the team played for it’s first Regional championship, knocking off Guerin Catholic by the final of 38-17. Just last week, the Braves defeated Gibson Southern 35-14 in their first Semi-State appearance.
So how will the Braves handle their first State finals game at Lucas Oil Stadium Friday afternoon? That is the question on everybody’s mind when Brebeuf Jesuit faces off against Andrean (14-0) in the Class 3A State championship game. Of course we won’t have that answer until later this week, but what we do know is that the Braves have had a fantastic first-season under Head Coach Mic Roessler.
“I think these kids have bought into it the first day I stepped in front of them and was introduced as the head coach,” said Roessler. “There is something about the look in their eyes that they believed in me, and I believed in them. Obviously looking ahead in the tournament we knew that we were in good shape, we had a lot of phenomenal athletes and good things in place. So it was just a matter of execution in all those aspects of the game.”
One area in which the Braves have not had much problem executing is the offensive side of the ball, where Brebuef is averaging 38.6 points per game. That’s in thanks to a large part to the speedy combination of LeVante Bellamy (37 total TD’s on offense, 162.3 yards per game rushing) and quarterback Aaron Banks (23 TD’s passing and rushing). Of course if you pay too much attention on them, the Braves know they have other options to hurt teams on defense.
“Everybody knows what type of running back (Bellamy) is,” said Roessler.
“But our receivers, we spread the ball out and around. So it’s hard to say that you need to stop Levante, and I would like to think that other teams spend so much time trying to stop him, that they lose track of some of our other weapons. Aaron Banks has done a great job all year in terms of his leadership. He is the general of our huddle, and he is going to get us in the right place. He has been a real blessing to me because we change things throughout the game. We evolve as the game evolves, and he is able to take it on with such grace and professional attitude that he doesn’t get too antsy or try to overthink things. He stays very calm and collective, and I think that keeps the other guys calm and collective as well.”
Just as effective as the Braves offensive side of the ball has been, the defense has been outstanding during the 2013 season, just allowing 16.6 points per game and 223.7 yards of offense per game.
“It’s their tenaciousness to get to the ball,” said Roessler.
“It is lead by Stu Dillon (162 tackles, 11 sacks, three interceptions). He looks like a lion running after a prey. He just has so much desire to get to the ball. He leads his team and he gets them in all of the right places. He is our defensive coordinator on the field, and he studies the game more than almost anybody I have ever been around. He is not huge kid, but he’s played huge. And defensively I could not be happier with the different kids who keep on having big games. It’s not one or two kids. Our defensive line has been outsized almost every game, but they have the tenacity to keep coming and to keep fighting and they have done a phenomenal job putting pressure on the quarterback and running back in their running game.”
Where Brebeuf Jesuit is playing their first State championship game, their opponents in the Andrean 59ers will be playing in their fifth title contest, vying for their second State championship overall. The 59ers haven’t had any problems putting up points all season long, averaging 44.6 points per game and outscoring their opponents 231-32 in the entire State tournament. That is in thanks to a great defense, as well as an efficient offense from quarterback Matt DeSomer (24 TD’s passing, 4 INT’s, 18 TD’s rushing) and running back Trevor Berg (20 TD’s, 80.2 yards per game rushing).
“They are a very good team both sides of the ball, and even a very solid special teams” said Roessler.
“They don’t turn the ball over, and we cannot turn the ball over to give them a short field to work with. We need to make them put together long drives. They are built to stop the run, so obviously (Bellamy) is going to be their priority to stop him and make him do somethings that we are not comfortable with. But their offense is lead by a tremendous quarterback, and he gets the ball around. They are very diverse in spreading the ball around. So we are going to have to be well-coached to be able to execute our game-plan, read our reads, and stay where we are supposed to stay.”
The IHSAA Class 3A State championship game between Brebeuf Jesuit and Andrean takes place Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm.