MONROEVILLE – Two weeks ago, history dragged on them like the weight of the world. Now its precedent that lifts them up.
Now its Bishop Luers 18, Heritage 13 in a second-round Class 3A sectional game Friday night, and on the Knights go to a place they know all too well. If their 0-9 regular season was an undiscovered country – it had never happened before in the programs 53 years – a sectional championship berth is carpeted with the Knights footprints.
In those 53 years, Luers has won 21 sectional titles and reached the title game in all but three of the last 20 seasons.
Luers (2-9) will play for the title Friday at Concordia (8-3). The Knights tied a state record with 26 straight postseason wins. Warren Central set the mark between 2003-07.
Yeah, you know, thats been really our M.O. the last month and a half is gearing up for the playoffs, Luers coach Kyle Lindsay said, five minutes or so after sophomore quarterback Noah Wezensky found Chance Young in the corner of the end zone with 8 seconds to play to win the game. Our whole goal was to compete for some kind of championship. And right now weve put ourselves in that position.
For that they can thank Wezensky and Young, who hooked up twice in the fourth quarter for scores, and a defense that bent but never really broke. Six times Heritage (7-4) was inside the 20 and three times the Patriots had first-and-goal, and they got six points out of it. Their only touchdown was a 35-yard pass from Branson Dossen to Conner Bleke with 5:58 to play.
That gave the Patriots their first lead of the night at 13-12, and, after Luers drove to the 15 and Travis Eckert missed a 32-yard field goal attempt with 3:49 to play, 13-12 looked as if it would stand up.
But the Patriots lost 6 yards in four plays, and the Knights had a final shot from their 31 with 2:08 left.
Everybody stayed calm, said Young, who also caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Wezensky. Everybody knew what they had to do, and we got the job done.
Wezensky got that process going by hitting Contrell McCarter for 6 yards and Braden Thiele for 12. He then found Young for 8 and Austin Mack for 9. Two more completions to Mack put the Knights at the 12 with 21 seconds left. And after the Patriots knocked down one throw, Wezensky went to Young for the win.
It finished a 15 of 31, 189-yard night for Wezensky, who had eight completions on the final drive.
His poise was unbelievable for a kid that age, Lindsay said. And our offensive line was tremendous the fourth quarter protecting him. It was a team effort.
Luers led 6-0 after a botched handoff by the Patriots at the Heritage 25. Brandon Volmerding recovered the fumble at the 21, and two plays later, McCarter raced 19 yards with 5:04 to play in the first quarter.
Obviously we didnt overlook anybody, Lindsay said. Cant afford to when you have the regular season we had. But we had to mentally prepare these kids, give them something positive to look forward to.