As the Brebeuf Jesuit Braves practiced on their home-field, you could see and feel the effects this time of year had on the gridiron. First and foremost, the sky was pitch-dark at 6:15 pm, with the Braves helmets radiating from the bright lights shining down on the turf. The air was chilled as could be, the temperature dropping a good 15 degrees from just hours before. And on the field, you could see a football team focused as can be, preparing for the biggest game of their high school careers.
“It’s fun playing out here in November,” said Braves Junior quarterback Aaron Banks with a smile. “I haven’t actually played in November before, so it’s good to be out here. I like playing in November, I like being deep in the tournament.”
In Friday night’s Buffalo Wild Wings Game of the Week, the Braves (8-3) host the Tri-West Bruins (9-2) in the Class 3A Sectional 29 championship game. The Bruins last won a sectional championship in 2005 when Tri-West defeated South Putnam 42-41, but Brebeuf Jesuit is entering the game having never reached the Regionals round of the IHSAA football tournament.
“It’s huge for the senior class,” said Braves Senior Stu Dillon, who has three sacks and an interception during sectional-play. “We have struggled together for four years. We’ve gotten close, but Brebeuf has never won a Sectional in it’s history, and it would mean a lot to the community. The seniors especially.”
The Braves have reached this point in recent-history, but were denied by Danville in 2007 and Bishop Chatard twice in 2009 and 2011. In having returned to this point, Brebeuf has strung together a couple of very impressive victories in the first two weeks of the State tournament, defeating North Montgomery (7-3) 48-14 and Western Boone (7-4) 24-0.
“We are happy with the defense because they are making great adjustments as they go through the game,” said first-year Head Coach Mic Roessler.
“Offensively as the coordinator I’m always trying to accomplish that perfect game of finishing every drive and scoring on every possession. I know that’s not realistic, but with the weapons that we have, that is our potential. These kids know in the few losses that we’ve had, we have given it away on a few things we should have connected on. It’s all in the back of our minds to do our part, and not worry what everyone else is doing.”
On both sides of the ball Brebeuf has been able to score (38.7 points per game) and hold other offenses down (16.5 points per game). And though perhaps Roessler hasn’t found the “perfect game” on offense just yet, Braves Junior quarterback Aaron Banks is doing everything he can to make that happen. Banks has four touchdowns and one interception in the two games in the playoffs, hooking up with Senior Chandler Grau twice in the victory over Western Boone. On Friday night however, Banks knows he is going to be met with a team just as hungry as perhaps he is in Tri-West.
“I know they are a very fast team,” said Banks.
“I know defensively they are kind of senior-dominated, and I know they are going to be playing hard. They don’t want to lose on Friday at all, they don’t want their season to be over either. It’s going to be a hard fought game, it’s going to be a fast game because they are a fast defense. We are going to have to play well, we are going to have to play well against them to get the victory.”
The Bruins enter Friday’s match-up having put up plenty of points in both of their tournament wins. Tri-West defeated Greencastle (8-2) by the final of 47-41 in week one, and defeated Edgewood 32-18 last Friday night. The two schools only have one common team on their schedules, when the Bruins also defeated Western Boone earlier in the year by the final of 28-20. But all of that goes out the window when the two teams step onto the field on the second Friday night under the lights in November. And when they do, they have to hope all of the preparation during the warm summer days and the cool fall nights have prepared them for this moment, as both squads look to reach new heights.
“There are a lot of kids who haven’t had any success from this week on,” said Brebeuf’s Head Coach Roessler. “So I take it upon myself to make sure we are crossing all of our T’s, dotting our I’s, and we are ready physically, mentally, and spiritually to be at our best on Friday.”
The Buffalo Wild Wings Game of the Week will be recapped on “Football Friday Night” at 10:35 pm, and make sure to join Chris Hagan in the parking lot at 5:30 for free Buffalo Wild Wings at the tailgate tent.