Key takeaways from Brebeuf’s 24-13 loss to Chatard


Michael Hoffbauer Photography

Logan Petrie ’23, Conway Zhang ’23, Cole Williams ’23, and Nolan Buckman ’23 take the field with their arms locked for the coin toss.

Sam Rudavsky 25’, Sports Editor

On Friday, the Brebeuf football team traveled to Lucas Oil Stadium to kick off their season against Bishop Chatard in the featured game of the Indianapolis Colts’ annual Horseshoe Classic, which pits high school rivals against each other on the most significant football field in Indiana. The game was a sloppy one, as a mistake-filled first quarter dug the Braves into a hole which they would not be able to climb out of.

Although the game ended 24-13 in favor of Chatard, the game was much closer than the score suggests. Aside from a few major errors, it was clear that the Braves could have easily mounted a comeback from trailing 21-0 to win this game. There were a few major takeaways from the rivalry matchup, in no particular order:

Special teams struggles
In a game as competitive as this one, a major component is special teams, as blocks and long returns can sway momentum and electrify student sections. In last year’s game, it was Brebeuf who won the special teams battle, as they were able to block an extra point and a punt (which was returned for a touchdown).

This year’s special teams plays were eerily similar to that of last year’s, but this time it was Chatard who blocked a punt (returned for a touchdown) and an extra point. Aside from a 49-yard kick return by Devin McIlwain ’23, the Braves averaged only 15.5 yards per kick return, which contributed to an average drive start of the 36 yard line, down significantly from last year’s tally of the 43 yard line.

Offensive errors
Entering the game, it was common knowledge that Brebeuf would be forced to rely heavily on their run game. It’s not that QB Nolan Buckman ‘23 isn’t a good passer (He’s a great passer.). Although the stat sheet will show that he recorded three interceptions, one of these was on a hail mary at the end of the first half, and a second was on an unlucky tipped pass. The problem was the receiving corps; they aren’t as deep as they have been in the past.

From the start, it was clear Chatard’s coaches were also aware of this run-heavy plan, and they continuously shut down the run with heavy blitzes. All of this culminated with Brebeuf putting up an abysmal 37 rushes for 56 yards, (which is 1.5 yards per carry).

When Brebeuf was forced to use the passing game as the game progressed, drops repeatedly left fans groaning. The most significant of these was a drop late in the fourth quarter on a well-placed pass by Buckman, which if caught would have been a surefire touchdown. If the Braves’ receiving corps could have gotten just a few of these drops back, the game could have easily gone the other way.

The defense is Good
Although the offense and special teams struggled, one very good takeaway from the game Friday is the defense. Once they worked out their jitters by the midway point of the second quarter, they played well. The intimidating front seven led by Logan Petrie ’23, Conway Zhang ’23, and Cole Williams ’23 wreaked havoc, sacking Chatard QB Drew Vanvleet twice and recording 8 tackles for loss.

Ryan Joyce ’23 recorded a momentum-swinging interception in the second half and returned it all the way back into Chatard territory. The defense only allowed two full scoring drives, as 14 of Chatard’s 24 points came off of a blocked punt return and a one play drive which started inside of Brebeuf’s 10 yard line.

There’s a reason why people say “Defense Wins Championships.” If Brebeuf wants a chance at winning a championship this year in their new 4A division, it will be behind the defense.

Executing big plays
Big factors of the loss on Friday were the challenges the offense faced with getting big gains. The only play which accumulated more than 12 yards for the offense was Buckman’s 87-yard touchdown pass to WR Wakem Wells ’24. The play occurred in the third quarter and was a heavy momentum swing in favor of Brebeuf.

Aside from that, the Braves struggled heavily on getting downfield on chunk plays. It was hard for them to break through the stifling Chatard defense without the ability to break out these major gains, and the Trojans continuously stopped Brebeuf on third downs (3/15 conversion rate for the Braves) and fourth downs (3/7 conversion rate).

Even with the shortcomings in the Horseshoe Classic, there were many examples of how the Braves can continue to be contenders, even in a higher class (4A instead of 3A) this year. On Friday, they hit the road to face Tri-West, but the weekend after that they will make their home opener Sept. 2 at St. Vincent Field against Cardinal Ritter.

Make sure to come out and support Brebeuf in these games as they try to turn their season around and re-emerge as a team which can return to the state championship.