St. Thomas' high-flying offense gets its biggest test to date against the Friars' opportunistic defense when the teams meet Saturday with the winner advancing to the Final Four.
WHO: Bishop Lynch Friars vs St. Thomas Eagles
WHAT: TAPPS Division I State Quarterfinal
WHERE: Eagle Stadium, Fairfield
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 24 @ 2:00 pm
RECORDS: Bishop Lynch is 6-4 overall; St. Thomas is 6-5 overall
LAST WEEK: Bishop Lynch def. Midland Christian, 35-15; St. Thomas def. John Paul II, 52-32.
LIVE AUDIO: http://bit.ly/BLathletics
ST. THOMAS OFFENSE
The Eagles have put together some impressive numbers, scoring 40+ points in six games. Senior quarterback Payton Matocha is the catalyst, passing for 3,371 yards with 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and adding another 773 yards and 14 TDs on the ground. The Eagles have a home run hitter in the backfield in Ian Wheeler (1,266 yards, 15 TDs) and a group of reliable receivers, including Joshua Crissmon (795 yards, 8 TDs), Hunter Cheek (722-4), Jordan Augustine (642-12), and Spencer Kryger (490-2). Paul Langemeier is 57-of-60 on PATs and 5-of-6 on field goals with a long of 52.
ST. THOMAS DEFENSE
Where the offense has thrived, the Eagle defense has struggled, allowing 44 points per game this season. The unit has allowed 49+ points in six games and surrendered 64, 77, 66, and 63 points in losses this season. Cooper Thomas leads the team with 75 tackles and Chidera Umeh has a team-high eight tackles for loss. The STH defense gave up 571 yards and 66 points in a loss to TC-Cedar Hill and 32 points last week to John Paul II. The play of this defensive unit could very well be the difference.
BISHOP LYNCH OFFENSE
The Friars have to be salivating knowing the issues the Eagles have had stopping opponents. With the offense in pretty good health, Charles Crawford and the offensive line could be looking at another big day. Sophomore quarterback Kaidon Salter continues to play mistake-free football and another big receiving threat emerged last week in Jackson Epes, giving Salter four solid options in the passing game, along with Jack Bradley, Davis Kaul, and Jaidon Wilson.
BISHOP LYNCH DEFENSE
The defense is getting back to the ways of 2017, forcing turnovers by the bunches. The Friars intercepted four passes last week in Midland, returning two of those for touchdowns. During their current three-game win streak, the Friars have forced 11 turnovers and scored three times. Grayson Murphy has made the most of the turnover opportunities and now has forced five fumbles, recovered two fumbles and picked off two passes. He returned an interception last week 95 yards for a score. Aaron Hunter has the other two defensive touchdowns.