A strong second half defensively last week against Heights couldn’t erase the 103 points Bishop Carroll had allowed in the previous 10 quarters.
The Golden Eagles’ reputation as a dominant defensive team was given the benefit of the doubt as Carroll surrendered 30 points per game in the first seven weeks.
On Friday, Carroll solidified the meaning of last week’s second half, as well as its reputation. Kapaun managed 117 yards in Carroll’s 25-3 win at Cessna Stadium.
The win put Carroll into a three-way tie with Northwest and Heights for the City League title and slotted the Eagles into the No. 5 seed in the west in the Class 5A playoffs. Kapaun is No. 12, which means the teams meet in the first round next week at Carroll.
“I think we’re starting to get to the football better, tackle better,” Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said. “We still did some things tonight, we didn’t get lined up right and we need to do a better job of that.
“We’re only playing with two guys who played last year, so it’s taken a while. It’s taken us eight games to figure it out. I think we’re jelling at the right time.”
Carroll rallied from a significant deficit in last week’s win over Heights, holding the Falcons to seven points in the second half.
Friday’s end points were more pronounced. Kapaun punted eight times and kicked a second-quarter field goal for its only points. Quarterback Nick Degenhardt, a threat to run or pass, had a 38-yard run in the first half but otherwise totaled 45 yards on 27 combined attempts.
“We didn’t want them to pass the ball,” Carroll junior linebacker Riggs Robben said. “They’re a running offense quite a bit, so just shut down the fullback (Nick Channel). Whenever he tried to run, shut him down.”
Degenhardt’s fourth pass was intercepted by Carroll junior Luke Evans, and Kapaun was unable to use the passing game to rally, as Degenhardt misfired on seven of his final eight passes.
Carroll quarterback Braden Howell experienced similar struggles, but only after he led the Eagles to an early lead. Howell completed his first 13 passes, guiding Carroll to touchdowns on its first three drives.
Twelve of Howell’s next 15 passes were incomplete, but Carroll got enough from its running game to control possession. Howell, Luke Linnebur and backup quarterback Cade Becker each ran for touchdowns.
“I think we’ve shown in the past that we’ve got a good running game and throwing game,” Schuckman said. “We’ve probably relied on the pass a little more than we should have. We need to be able to run the football.”
Carroll’s impressive performances have come in arguably its two most important games. The win against Heights kept Carroll alive in the league race, while Friday’s win came against its biggest rival.
The emotion of the past week may have led to a sluggish second half against Kapaun, which creates some question of how Carroll, which has played in consecutive title games, will handle the postseason.
“I don’t think we played real well tonight,” Schuckman said. “It could have been a hangover from last week. But we came out, we started fast, and we wanted to do that. Offensively, we just take two steps forward and one step backward.
“Just inconsistencies. We’ve got to get that solved offensively or it’s going to be a short playoff run for us.”
BC—Howell 4 run (Steven kick)
BC—Linnebur 1 run (kick failed)
BC—Becker 1 run (kick failed)
K—Schrock 43 FG
BC—Helten 11 pass from Howell (run failed)
Rushing—Carroll, Linnebur 11-27, Gottschalk 7-21, J. Nichols 4-17, Becker 3-14, Howell 10-(-7); Kapaun, Degenhardt 11-63, Channel 7-27, Heiland 13-10, King 1-(-3).
Passing—Carroll, Howell 16-28-196-0; Kapaun, Degenhardt 4-17-20-1.
Receiving—Carroll, E. Nichols 5-37, Cundiff 3-60, Helten 3-52, Winter 3-22, Robben 1-19, Linnebur 1-6.