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Crusaders on to title game


Jesuit grinds Canby on both sides of ball for 6A semifinal win

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jesuit senior safety Josh Anderson celebrates a big hit in the second quarter of the Crusaders' 35-10 win over Canby in the 6A state semifinals on Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field. Anderson had a tackle for a loss in the win.

Jesuit gave up a 47-yard touchdown run on the game’s opening drive in the 6A state semifinals against Canby, setting up an unforeseen 7-0 deficit with 7:31 to go in the first quarter.

Cause for concern? Yeah, right.

Canby could have scored three quick touchdowns, and the Crusaders wouldn’t have been worried.

Shrugging off its early miscue as if it never happened, Jesuit trampled Canby with an overpowering run game and squashed the Cougars’ Wing-T attack with a strangling defensive effort to take the semifinal contest, 35-17, at Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday.

“We knew adversity is a key part of a football game,” said Jesuit sophomore quarterback Eric Restic. “Overcoming adversity is what champions do. We made some mistakes, I made some mistakes. But, we kept at it. We played our hardest, and that’s great.”

After losing in the semis the past two seasons, the Crusaders were able to buck the proverbial monkey off their collective backs and advance to the 6A state championship against Central Catholic next Saturday at 1 p.m at Jeld-Wen Field for the first time since 2009.

“We kind of had a chip on our shoulders coming into this game after the past couple years, and it just feels great to be going to the state championship,” said senior defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux. “We just had to make sure we were doing our jobs and grind through.”

Jesuit’s muffing defense curbed Canby to just six first downs and 152 yards of total offense on the afternoon. Meanwhile, Restic, junior running back Chase Morrison and the burly Crusader offensive line compressed the Cougars on the ground to the tune of 305 rushing yards. Morrison put in a yeoman’s effort, toting the rock 44 times for 228 yards and three touchdowns.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jesuit running back Chase Morrison dives for extra yardage during the Crusaders' 35-10 triumph over the Cougars on Saturday.

“Our guys up front are really good at controlling the line of scrimmage,” said Morrison. “They go out and practice hard every week and get the job done. They’re like my brothers, my family. I know I can trust them to cut open a hole, and they believe in me.”

Other than the startling opening drive in which Canby’s Noah Kyllo took a halfback sweep around the right side of the Cougar offensive line for a 47-yard touchdown, Jesuit dictated the game’s direction and tempo on both sides of the pigskin.

The Crusader defense forced four consecutive three-and-outs after Canby’s initial strike as Mondeaux, Nathanael Heaukulani, Christian Martinek, Trent Werner and Josh Anderson all took turns diving into the backfield and devouring the Cougars’ Wing-T offense.

Without the threat of the pass, Jesuit was able to stack the box and send extra run blitzers at the Cougars, who only garnered 38 yards of total offense until midway through the fourth quarter. Heaukulani was everywhere at middle linebacker, leading the Crusaders with seven total tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, and 1.5 sacks on the day. Martinek notched two tackles for a loss and had a sack.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jesuit senior defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux and safety Josh Anderson tackle a Canby ball carrier in the first half of the Crusaders' semifinal win on Saturday

“With a team like that, you can’t try and do more than you’re asked to do or they’ll capitalize on it,” said Mondeaux, who had six total tackles. “That’s what their offense is about, so just having a real disciplined defense was really helpful for us. We knew we’d be fine. We studied a lot of film, and knew if we’d just do our jobs, that we’d come out on top.”

Jesuit hitched its wagon and state title aspirations to the back of Morrison, who carried the ball 21 times for 132 yards and two scores in the first half to give the Crusaders a 14-7 halftime advantage. Following a great lead block by sophomore fullback Jason Talley, Morrison slid into the end zone for a 2-yard scored that pulled Jesuit even, 7-7 with 3:22 to go in the first quarter.

Then, after Werner and Martinek combined for an obliterating gang tackle on 3 and 4 that gave Jesuit the ball at midfield, Morrison ran behind a blow-up block by Nick Miller for a 4-yard touchdown with 5:53 left in the second quarter.

“We wanted to play our game and continue to pound the rock,” said Morrison. “We threw when it was necessary, but we just wanted to run the ball.”

Like a heavyweight prize fighter patiently feeling out its foe with slight jabs to the face, Jesuit danced around the ring in the third quarter. The Crusaders didn’t really attack as Canby made a 28-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-10 with 8:40 left in the third, and then extracted a three-and-out from the Jesuit offense.

However, on 4 and 1 with the ball at the Jesuit 45 and 4:43 remaining in the third, Mondeaux and senior defensive tackle David Brugato stonewalled Kyllo at the line of scrimmage and stopped the Canby running back from picking up what would’ve been a crucial first down.

“That was a crazy play,” said Mondeaux. “We knew they were going to try and wedge it up the middle, so it was all about getting under their pads and trying to stop them. It was a big turning point for us just to capitalize on them. We didn’t want to give them more time on offense, and we wanted to score more points.”

Morrison and the Jesuit offense proceeded to tramp 55 yards on 13 plays, with the junior running back capping the massive march with a 2-yard score to go up 21-10 with 10:21 left in the fourth.

“That really changed the momentum,” said Restic. “The offensive line used that really well, just came off the ball hard and fast. They made some huge holes for Chase (Morrison) and I, and we took advantage of them. Everybody stayed on their assignments pretty well today.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ -  Jesuit quarterback Eric Restic ran for a 41-yard touchdown and threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Powers in the fourth quarter to salt away Jesuit's return trip to the state title game.

Aware the game was squarely in their hands, and a date with Central Catholic was on the horizon, Jesuit’s problematic defense twisted Canby into another fast stop. Jordan Happle wrapped up Kyllo for a loss on 2 and 9, and Zach Houlemard broke up a long pass to force the Cougars’ fifth punt of the day.

Then, Jesuit went for the knockout blow.

On 3 and 6 from the Canby 41, Restic faked a handoff to Happle, escaped out of the backfield and slithered down the left sideline untouched to the house for a 41-yard score to essentially ice the game, 28-10, with 5:55 left in the fourth.

The fake to Happle was consummate, as the sophomore signal caller sold the dupe and snuck out the backdoor on the perimeter. Mondeaux and Morrison both blasted a Cougar defender out of the way for Restic, who did the rest, running down the left rail as the Crusader faithful exploded in the stands.

“It was a great call by (head coach Ken) Potter, and great blocks by Chase and Henry,” said Restic. “We’d been running that smash-off tackle the whole game. I got one extra blocker, and Henry had a great block on the edge, just pummeled a guy, and ran him into the ground. They just opened up a huge hole, and I just had to reach the end zone.”

After Jace Cates recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Restic put the icing on the cake with 4:06 to go in the fourth.

Facing a 4 and 7 inside the Canby 10, Restic hovered a hanging fade pass to Mitchell Powers, who adjusted to the ball’s trajectory, spun his body to get in position for the catch, and clenched the ball in the end zone to go up 35-10.

“I’m definitely just more comfortable in the games,” said Restic. “I trust guys more and more every week. We’re starting to build a brotherhood. We’re all good friends, good brothers, and we trust each other. That’s been huge for me.”

Restic continued his impressive postseason run, by going 5-8 for 48 passing yards and a score to go along with 68 yards on the ground. The sophomore was glad to contribute to Jesuit’s huge obtainment, but said he was even prouder of how the Crusaders responded to the game’s early tribulations. Jesuit wasn’t perfect with two lost fumbles, drops on fourth down and six penalties.

But, the Crusaders kept cranking out stops on defense, and hung onto Morrison and that prevailing offensive line when times got tight to send themselves back to the state title contest.

“The whole team played through some adversity this game,” said Restic. “We didn’t get off to a great start, but we powered through. We kept making plays, kept moving the ball. Our offensive line did a great job of milking the clock, and we came away with the victory.”