Jays Finish 2017-18 Football Season After Loss to St. Augustine, 27-0
St. Augustine’s strong defense broke open a tight game before halftime as the Purple Knights defeated Jesuit 27-0 in the opening round of the playoffs Friday night at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Coming off last weekend’s 23-17 overtime loss to Brother Martin, Jesuit struggled with only 111 yards of total offense against St. Augustine, 200 fewer than in their performance against the Crusaders. In fact, last week’s total would have matched up perfectly to St. Augustine’s offense, who ironically finished with exactly 311.
After a quarter of play, Jesuit held their opponent’s versatile offense scoreless even after the Purple Knights ran 17 plays inside the Jays’ 25-yard line. The game was scoreless for most of the first half, but a 0-0 scoreline was too good to be true.
St. Augustine scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half. The first came a minute and a half before the horn. The second came on the next play from scrimmage, when quarterback Alex Watermeier’s pass was tipped, caught, and returned by a Purple Knight defender. The ensuing PAT was blocked by Blue Jay defensive lineman and team captain Matt Frischhertz, whose leadership along with others is one of the reasons head coach Mark Songy will not forget the 2017-18 football season.
“I would not trade this team for the world,” Coach Songy said to his team in the huddle after the game.
“Our kids gave great effort,’’ Songy told media. “Our kids give great effort all of the time. They’re a super group and a pleasure to coach. We were a day late and a dollar short on a few things. But never on effort.’’
St. Augustine’s defensive front, who Coach Songy deemed as “really, really good,” pressured quarterback Alex Watermeier all night. The Blue Jay offense was unable to get into the red zone, even in the second half. St. Augustine seemed like a different team than when they beat the Jays 37-17 on Sept. 22, earlier this season.
“I think they’ve improved since the first time we played them. They did a really good job of stopping us from having any kind of running game,” Songy said. “They did a good job of covering in the secondary and pressuring the quarterback. We had no field position from the get go. Our defense played well for three quarters. We played stout defense early. But they’re a good team and they might be peaking.”
For Jesuit, this game and throughout the season, the mindset was quite simple. They might be defeated on the scoreboard, but they would not be beaten on the field.
The one opportunity for good Jesuit field position came when the Jays forced the Purple Knights to punt inside their own 10-yard line. The St. Aug punter fumbled the snap and quickly had Blue Jays chasing him for a safety or a goal-line tackle. Somehow, the punter was able to run for a first down. What could have been a turning point for Jesuit became a deep breath for St. Augustine.
They might be defeated on the scoreboard, but they did not go down without a fight. The team never made excuses, even after facing key injuries throughout the season. Tight end Drew Black, who missed the past three games, was shaken up and sidelined in the fourth quarter. Offensive lineman Cooper Arnold and wide receiver Noah Varnado, both starters, were inactive Friday night. Even senior captain Matt Frischhertz was shaken up during the game.
“They came to work every day even though it was hard. Even when we were staring some opponents in the face that were probably better and bigger and faster than us, we still came and battled. They came to work with a smile on their face, and they tried to do everything we asked them to do; and that’s why I wouldn’t trade these guys. I have been around other teams where things start going bad, and it all goes south. They wouldn’t allow that to happen. Just a great bunch.”
The Jays finished each game like they always did. After shaking hands they huddled up as a team, broke off as a team, and met in small groups with their positional coaches.
They might be finished with this season, but they are not quite finished with their hard work. Coach Songy mentioned the team would still meet for film and exit meetings. The 2017-18 season is soon to be one for the books, but the graduating seniors on this team left memories and mindsets that will remain with the up-and-coming Blue Jay football players.