Brentwood Academy routed the JPII Knights, posting a 43-7 win in a steady mist on Friday night. The most important lesson for the Knights was they have the smallest of margins of error when playing a Division II-AAA team, especially the defending state champion and the top-ranked team in the state.
"We made way too many mistakes," JPII coach Justin Geisinger said. "We're a young team. Some of these guys have never played varsity before under the Friday night lights. But you've got to come every week with mistake free football.
"It starts with a week of preparation. We didn't feel like we had a week of preparation to win a region game."
JPII, which scored 42 and 38 points in its first two games, were held to only 34 yards of total offense against Brentwood Academy's defense. This included a net of negative-two yards rushing on 27 carries, thanks to several sacks of JPII quarterback Ben Nixon. The Knights' only score came late in the game against the Brentwood Academy backups.
Meanwhile, the Eagles rushed for 183 yards and passed for 188 more, giving them 371 yards of total offense. Tomario Pleasant led Brentwood Academy with 135 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Senior quarterback Gavin Schoenwald completed 11-of-19 passes for 175 yard and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Brentwood Academy struck quickly, driving 74 yards in four plays to open the game. Schoenwald's pass to Daniel Taylor covered the last 30 yards for the score.
But JPII's defense stiffened for the rest of the quarter, forcing two punts and a missed field goal. Brentwood Academy led 7-0 after the first 12 minutes.
BA scored twice in the second quarter on a 1-yard run by Pleasant and a 6-yard touchdown pass from Schoenwald to Mark Archie. The scores, an extra point kick by Toby Wilson, and a two-point conversion on a pass from Schoenwald to Archie, gave the Eagles a 22-0 lead at halftime.
"The defense kept us in the game early," Geisinger said. "Offensively, we made too many errors from a mental standpoint, from a physical standpoint."
In the second half, it was more of the same, as Brentwood Academy got touchdowns from Pleasant on a 44-yard run, an 11-yard run from Schoenwald and an 8-yard run from backup quarterback Conner Woodlee - giving the Eagles a 43-0 lead and triggering the running clock.
JPII finally showed some life offensively when freshman Antwan Roberts broke through the line of scrimmage, headed for the sideline and ran 39 yards to the Brentwood Academy 4-yard-line. It looked like the Knights might miss their opportunity to score when a mix-up in the backfield led to the loss of four yards on the next play. But Roberts got five back on second down and scored from three yards out on third down, making it 43-7.
"They've got (college) Division I players all over the field," Geisinger said. "But we feel we've got a group, when they play together, that is capable of doing good things. There were too many breaks in the chain. Against good football teams, they're going to make you pay.
"We're hoping this is a wakeup call for them. They got their first taste of Division II large school football. We hope they'll understand how important a great week of preparation is. That's what you have to do to compete."
JPII will have another Division II-AAA East/Middle Region game on Friday when they travel to arch-rival Father Ryan in the annual battle for the Bishop's Cup. The Knights claimed the Bishop's Cup for only the third time since 2005 with a 20-17 win last year.
"They're much improved," Geisinger said. "They're going to be a disciplined team; they're going to play hard. Traditionally, their defense has always been stingy."
Despite the extra attention that comes with a big rivalry game, Geisinger wants his team to focus on the goal of winning a region game, starting with a good week of preparation.
"Right now, all I'm worried about is getting these guys' mindset right," Geisinger said. "The Father Ryan part will fall into place. It starts on Monday."