Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette T.J. McGarry has helped Bishop Dwenger establish a strong ground game this season. The unbeaten Saints beat Bishop Luers on Friday.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Bishop Dwenger's Hayden Ellinger makes his way through a pack of Bishop Luers players during the first quarter at Bishop Luers High School on Friday.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Bishop Dwenger's T.J. McGarry holds onto the ball after hitting the ground during the first quarter against Bishop Luers at Bishop Luers on Friday.
Sunday, September 30, 2018 1:00 am
H.S. Football notebook
Offensive line vital to Saints' success
Bishop Dwenger's defense may get talked about the most, and rightfully so with players such as big Joe Tippmann and Hayden Ellinger, but its offense has consistently scored enough points to get the job done.
It starts with the hard running abilities of T.J. Tippmann, but it wouldn't be possible without the force of the offensive line.
“It starts with our center, Alex Kolkman. He hasn't had a bad snap all year,” coach Jason Garrett said after the Saints (7-0) defeated Bishop Luers 15-13 on Friday. “He had his work cut out for him there and he just did an outstanding job in the middle.”
The Dwenger offense lives off the constant extra three to five yards its offensive line is almost guaranteed to push the pile. The Saints live through the running game. T.J. Tippmann, T.J. McGarry and Ellinger all can carve up defenses to reach the end zone.
Still, T.J. Tippmann and Garrett know the passing game needs to be more of a threat as more teams put a priority on stopping the run.
“Teams are starting to stack the box on us, so it's of utmost importance to get the passing going,” T.J. Tippmann said.
In Saints quarterback Patrick O'Keefe's first game back from injury, he completed only one pass, attempting fewer than 10. But it's the intangibles Garrett likes about O'Keefe.
“He's a gamer; he's just gritty,” Garrett said of his quarterback. “His middle name should be grit. Even when things aren't going well, you know he's going to be in there giving it his all.”
Busco's Kelly keeping it cool
With a chance at securing an outright Northeast Corner Conference title, Churubusco junior Gage Kelly kept himself under control. His efforts were rewarded in the second quarter of the Eagles' 42-14 victory over Central Noble.
Leading 14-0 after a 3-yard Nathaniel Keener touchdown run, Kelly did his part to build Churubusco's advantage. Facing second and 14, Cougars quarterback Nick Alwine attempted. The ball sailed a bit, and receiver Jacob Brose tipped it.
Kelly corralled the wobbling football to notch his fourth interception of the year. Six plays later, Kelly caught another pass, this one from teammate Tom Richards, good for an 11-yard touchdown and a 21-0 Eagles lead.
The junior downplayed his exploits, happier that the Eagles secured a victory and the conference championship.
“It's a good feeling, but it's nothing special,” Kelly said of his interception and touchdown. “I just wanted to get the job done for my team. We knew we had to play hard and be physical. We played really well on both sides, and we executed our jobs.”
Thwarting the return game
If there was one area where South Side hurt rival North Side on Friday night, it was the return game. Dillon Jackson gained 79 yards on two kickoff returns, and Bacarri McGraw returned one kickoff for 65 yards. So North Side, which won 32-18, got creative, using an onside kick after going ahead 25-18 with 9 minutes remaining in the game.
“South, they did a good job finding the hole in our kickoff coverage, so we just said, you know what, we're just going to onside” kick, North Side coach Mike Brevard said. “We're going to keep the ball upfront, so either we're going to get the ball back or they'll get the ball back, and they won't have a chance to return it.”
The North Side return game was not so prolific: Alex Holliday-Robinson had two kickoff returns for a total of 29 yards, Tray Shoals returned one for 15 yards and Theo Redmond had one return for 10 yards.