This is the part of the season when that old cliche kicks in.
Defense, it is said, wins championships, and it’s officially title time under the new MIAA football playoff system. This means Bishop Fenwick’s less heralded group of 11 will take center stage beginning tomorrow night (7 p.m.) when the Crusaders battle Northeast Regional for the Division 5 North championship at Donaldson Field.
As impressive as the Fenwick offense has been — averaging more than 40 points per game — the defense has quietly become one of the best head coach Dave Woods has ever had.
At its best, the Crusaders’ D has been a dominant unit that gives their opponents no chance to win. At its worst, that same unit has been a bend-but-don’t-break crew that puts its offense in a position to prevail.
”I think we’ve played great defense all year. When teams have driven on us or are in scoring position, the defense has turned up the intensity. And they definitely have the ability when they need a big stop to come up with it,” Woods said. “We might let them get a couple of first downs, but somebody always seems to come up with a big play.”
Fenwick will most likely need a couple of those big plays tomorrow night against Northeast in a battle of 9-0 clubs.
The Golden Knights seemingly have used a similar recipe for success as Fenwick, putting up a ton of points (37.6 per game) and have prevented the opposition from scoring much (16.9 points allowed per game).
Northeast has four running threats in Kevin Rosado, Christian Perez, Israel Silva and Avery Tango, plus a dangerous quarterback in Troy Tartarini. Senior tight end Nick Giangregorio is another player the Fenwick defense will have to be concerned about.
Rosado and Giangregorio scored the Northeast touchdowns last year when Fenwick opened the season against the Knights with a 22-14 win; it took a game-winning drive in the final five minutes for Fenwick to emerge victorious.