FORT WAYNE – Bishop Luers season has been filled with turbulence, but the constant has been the defense.
The three-time defending Class 2A state champion Knights got the first postseason step in their quest for a four-peat by blanking Churubusco 21-0 in the sectional championship Friday at Luersfield.
No. 5 Luers (8-4) has given up 156 points (14 per game) this year, but 60 of those came in losses to two Ohio schools in Columbus Hartley (40-7) and Toledo Whitmer (20-3). Sixth-ranked Churubusco (10-2) was averaging 42 points but was stymied by the Knights defense and had two costly turnovers in the second half.
Our defense has played well all year, Luers interim coach Steve Keefer said. They are the backbone of our team. For what (the Eagles) do, you wont find anybody who does it better.
Churubusco had 134 rushing yards from Jason Nicodemus and threatened to score a couple of times, but TyVel Jemison had an interception in the end zone and Nicodemus fumbled in Luers territory, both in the third quarter.
We did have opportunities and could have had a different result in the game, Churubusco coach Lee Etzler said. They are very talented, and its been difficult for teams to move the ball on them all year. We moved the ball at times, but we didnt capitalize on our offensive possessions.
The Knights will travel to Tipton (11-1) next Friday in a regional game.
Our defense is everything, Jemison said. Our defense keeps the momentum for the team. We get the big hits on defense, and we love that so we get that momentum. Thats the way we keep going on defense.
Notre Dame recruit Jaylon Smith ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns and came up big in the fourth on defense from his outside linebacker position.
Its all about perseverance, Smith said. There comes a point where you have to step up for your team.
Perseverance is a good motto for the entire season for the Knights, who have seen a coach fired midseason, have had two interim coaches, a forfeit loss for the second straight year and an offense that hasnt generated a lot of points. And yet, the program won its 21st straight postseason game, tied for the longest active streak in the state with Lafayette Central Catholic.
We went through so many things this year, and it was all about sticking together as a team, Smith said. We just have to stick together and complete this four-peat. We have played almost two years of extra football in my four years. It will be a great experience to finish that out at Lucas.
Luers shook off Churubusco with two fourth-quarter touchdowns by Smith and Mike Rogers.
It was a real good fight, Roger said. (Churubusco) played hard for 48 minutes, and we just played as one and got the job done.