Newman prepares for unfamiliar faces in St. Bede

While most football games in the shortened, reconfigured spring season are rematches of games played in 2019, giving teams some idea of how the guys on the other side are going to line up and what they might try to run, Newman and St. Bede head into Saturday’s battle of unbeatens in the Three Rivers having not seen each other for a while.

The last time Newman and St. Bede faced off came in a 2016 playoff game in Peru, which the Comets won 49-20. The teams’ last regular-season meeting came two weeks before that, a 48-14 Comets win at Roscoe Eades Stadium in Week 9 of the regular season, when both were in the Three Rivers Mississippi Division.

Subsequent realignment following Monmouth-Roseville’s arrival in the Three Rivers meant Newman jumped over to the Rock Division, and the two teams haven’t played since.

“It’s kind of nice to see a different opponent,” Newman coach Brandon Kreczmer said. “We like our rivalry games with Orion, Rockridge, Morrison, Fulton, but every once in a while it’s nice to play [St. Bede]. They come in 3-0. They’re playing really good football, so it’s going to be a nice test for us.”

The Bruins come in off a 24-21 win over Erie-Prophetstown in Week 3, in which St. Bede broke a halftime tie by holding the Panthers to three-and-out on the opening drive of the third quarter, putting its own scoring drive together, then getting an interception to stop E-P’s second drive of the half.

“I expect them to be quick, mobile, and they fly to the ball,” Newman guard Jack Bontjes said. “There are a lot of things we have to shore up, but generally I think we’ve just got to do what we do, perfect our art.”

Kreczmer said the Bruins defense reminds him of Newman’s.

“They play the same scheme, a 3-5,” he said. “They just fill. They’re hard-nosed. They’re good tacklers, and it’s going to be a battle on the line of scrimmage. Whoever wins the line of scrimmage is going to come out on top.”

Offensively, the Bruins are paced by dual-threat quarterback Braden Damerell, who through three games has put up 449 passing yards and 146 rushing yards. In the win over Erie-Prophetstown last week, he had a pair of rushing touchdowns and 102 yards on the ground.

“It’s all about timing,” Kreczmer said. “If the receiver’s open, he’s going to get rid of it quick, and if not he can tuck it and take off running. We have to make sure we keep him in the pocket. We have to do that a lot better than we did against [Morrison’s Nate] Helms last week.”

Kreczmer also wants his defense to keep an eye on Bruins wide receiver Tyreke Fortney, who has four touchdown catches on the year and has the ability to break big plays, with a 51-yard touchdown and a 70-yard touchdown already on his résumé.

Newman survived its Week 3 showdown with Morrison, a game in which the Comets came up with a pair of late defensive stops to preserve a 14-7 win.

“We won ugly, but the important thing is that we won,” Bontjes said. “We won on sheer will and the desire to do it, good effort.”