The pregame speeches in both locker rooms had to be fairly simple: Win and you’re in.
With identical 5-3 records — one win away from clinching a postseason playoff berth, U-D Jesuit and host Redford Thurston had their seasons on the line Friday evening.
By a 38-0 final score, Jesuit’s season is guaranteed to continue, but Thurston (5-4) will have to wait and see for Sunday’s playoff selections. The Cubs earned regular-season win No. 6 — for just the third time in the school’s past 30 years — and a first-round playoff game up next.
“What a great win for our program and for our alumni,” said Jesuit coach Oscar Olejniczak. “Six wins is a big deal for us, and getting into the playoffs … that’s huge for our program.”
The Cubs defense was sterling, holding Thurston to 97 yards total offense. Jesuit also returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
“That staff worked really hard to put together a game plan, to look at their tendencies (on offense) and our guys, they get after it,” Olejniczak said. “Our defense is outstanding, and we always say we’re going to win with our defense, absolutely.”
U-D Jesuit got off to a fast start with two TDs in the first eight minutes. Jesuit scored on its first drive when quarterback Scott Nelson ran 20 yards untouched right up the middle. Then on Thurston’s first possession, Nelson grabbed an interception from the safety position and ran 70 yards the other way for a quick 14-0 lead.
The Cubs kept rolling on their next two possessions.
After keeping Thurston from earning a first down, the punt was blocked, giving Jesuit the ball on Thurston’s 30-yard line. Eventually the Cubs settled for a field goal, a 32-yarder by Niccolo Seilo.
The Cubs then held Thurston on a fourth-and-11 attempt, eventually allowing Victor Hill to score for Jesuit on a 10-yard run for a 24-0 halftime edge.
Hill scored again on Jesuit’s first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, a 48-yard TD run on a reverse.
Thurston’s highlight reel play of the game came when Enorick Hall returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for Thurston, to the Cubs’ 7-yard line. But the Cubs defense held again on two runs and two incomplete passes.
A short time later, senior linebacker Cam Hall snatched a Thurston pass out of the air just behind the line of scrimmage, returning it 10 yards for a TD and the 38-0 final score.
“I’ve been waiting for a while for that,” Hall said. “Coaches told me to wait, I’d get my chance. I saw the ball coming and jumped it.”