The rivalry between Kapaun Mt. Carmel and Bishop Carroll is one that is heavily discussed in the Wichita area. However, the “Holy War,”as the schools have named it, has looked more like a yearly stomping by the Golden Eagles. The Crusaders have not notched a win against their rivals since Oct. 1, 1999, four years before the school’s seniors were born. However, this year may be the year KMC turns things around.
The Crusaders head into this matchup undefeated, and for good reason. The Crusader defense has played as an unbreakable unit. Especially when it comes to limiting the effectiveness of teams’ backfields. The Crusader defensive line has been lethal this season, suffocating every running back they face. The secondary isn’t far behind them.
Even with the loss of starting sophomore cornerback Nathan Thengvall due to ankle injury, the defensive backs have done a phenomenal job this season preventing teams from getting their air attack off the ground. Junior Dominic Shibley, the replacement cornerback, will be a key factor in how the game goes.
“The secondary has to stay focused and limit big plays when they happen…Don’t get down on ourselves, when these big plays happen or we make mistakes,” said Shibley.
The offense has been strong so far this season too, another phase of the game that KMC will have to dominate in order to beat the Eagles. The rush attack has served KMC well so far this season due in no small part to sophomore running back Omari Elias. Elias has been averaging an elite 130 yards per game including a 280 yard three touchdown performance against Northwest.
“We’ve been playing really well as a team this year and we really have good chemistry,” said Elias. “ It’s just something we work on a lot, and I don’t think they’ll be able to stop it.
In the case that Elias does for some reason struggle to get the run game going, his counterpart in the back field, Austin Ruda, will be there to back him up. Ruda has played an interesting role this season as he stepped down from being the workhorse back he was last year, but is instead taking less carries and coming for one or two carries during any given drive. This does two things for the offense; it primarily allows for Elias to catch his breath and regroup with the coaching staff on the sideline and can help preserve him for important plays such as a third or fourth down conversion. Secondly, it allows for Ruda to inject energy back into the offense and potentially break off huge runs after being well rested on the sideline.
Quarterback Dylan Hamilton will be heavily relied on entering this week as well. The sophomore has been playing exceptionally well in his first season. He has been able to read the field well from the pocket and is not afraid to step up and scramble when the offensive line collapses. The young quarterback will have to focus on not turning the ball over and focus on limiting the amount of penalties his offense commits. Hamilton will also have his talented receiving corp of Will Anciaux, Issac Schmitz and Henry Thengvall to pull down his passes.
A receiving core with a single advantage that cannot be taught: height. The Crusaders’ receivers are all healthily above the height of six foot, with Anciaux and Henry Thengvall both standing at a towering six-foot-six. The ability to reach above the defender grab receptions is something that is extremely valuable to a developing quarterback.
In order to win, the KMC offense must finish drives. The team has struggled with getting into the endzone once they get inside their opponent’s 20 yard line. Reasons for this vary between a fatigued offensive line, bad reads by the quarterback and mistakes such as turnovers and penalties. Regardless of the reason, the Crusaders cannot afford to leave potential points out on the field. The team must punch the ball in and convert on their PATs.
“We need to take advantage of opportunities we are given, we can’t have drives stall out in the red zone,” said Junior Linebacker Nathan Fury.
It is reasonable to assume that KMC will be able to replicate their production on offense, limit mistakes (penalties, turnovers, etc.) and restrict the Bishop Carroll rushing attack. The Crusaders have a good chance of ending the streak that has grown to be 22 years long: a streak that has hung over the heads of KMC students since their birth, and one they hope to end Oct. 8, 2021. 8,043 days after it began.