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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Bishop Luers senior running back Jordan Presley leads the Knights in rushing and is second in receiving.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Bishop Luers' Justin Gaston runs the ball up the field during the second quarter against Bishop Dwenger at Bishop Luers on Friday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Bishop Luers' Norman Knapke throws the ball to a teammate during the game against Bishop Dwenger at Bishop Luers on Friday.

Friday, October 12, 2018 1:00 am

High School Football: Week 9

Knights cutting it close

No trouble scoring for Bishop Luers or its opponents

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Two things are practically guaranteed at Bishop Luers games this season: 

First, the Knights will score plenty of points. Second, the outcome will go down to the wire.

Bishop Luers (5-3) is averaging 34 points, and with 272 points this season the Knights are just two behind Northrop as the highest-scoring team in the SAC. And oftentimes it's just barely enough to outpace their opponents, as six of their eight games have been decided by three points or fewer. They have won four of those six close games. 

“I think it shows our heart to win,” senior quarterback Norm Knapke said. “Our guys, they want to make big plays, they want to be put on center stage on Friday nights.”

Senior running back and linebacker Jordan Presley, who is the Knights' leading rusher and second-leading receiver, was a little tougher on his team when asked why the Knights have played in so many close games. 

“We've just got to finish it,” Presley said. “The last couple of fourth quarters, we haven't been doing what Bishop Luers defense is, and we've got to get back to that.”

But for Knights coach Kyle Lindsay, his team's record in close games is a sign of the maturity that was lacking last season, when Bishop Luers beat teams by an average of more than 19 points in its eight wins and lost by an average of 26 points in its five losses. 

“We've got a bunch of kids that believe that no matter what the score is, that we've got a chance to win,” Lindsay said. “It's the same core group of kids returning from last year, but it's not the same mentality as last year. ... It's a sign of improvement. The kids have learned from last year's lessons and applied them to those same, different scenarios this year.”

Lindsay said that maturation would be expected from any group of players as they reach their senior season, but the Knights have also benefited from the arrival of offensive coordinator Jeff Stanski from Snider.

“I think what he's brought is some tempo to the offense,” Lindsay said. “We've taken a lot of what we did last year and years past and given them new terminology, so that made the learning curve a little easier for the kids.”

Lindsay admitted his offense, and Knapke in particular, is getting more thorough coaching now that he's added an offensive coordinator to the staff. 

“Right now, there are two guys on staff that know the offense better than Norm, and that's his position coach and his offensive coordinator,” Lindsay said. “He's really done a great job of not just learning it, but being able to teach it to teammates. … He didn't have that understanding last year, and I think some of that, a lot of that, I take on my shoulders. I failed him last year in understanding our offense at that time. And that was part of the reason for the change to a real offensive coordinator.”

Knapke and Presley said they've been spending more time perfecting their timing on offense, and the results are showing. Knapke passed for 1,462 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 games as a junior. He already has 1,943 yards and 20 touchdowns through eight games, with a match-up with Snider tonight. Presley has 627 rushing yards and 419 receiving. 

“He brings a lot of intensity, especially with the wide receivers,” Presley said of playing under Stanski. “I'm glad that I get to play a lot of receiver, too. He likes to put people in different players, mix up the offense.”

And with six different players averaging more than 30 yards running or receiving, Knapke said he's pretty sure he has more options than any other quarterback in the league. 

“The hard part is just sharing the wealth,” Knapke said. “A lot of receivers are open, it's just my job to get them the ball and let them run.”

vjacobsen@jg.net