St. Bede will play by next man up approach

It’s going to be next man up approach the rest of the 2021 spring season for the St. Bede Bruins football team.

The Bruins roster has turned into a MASH unit with a rash of injuries that has taken multiple players to the sidelines, some for the remainder of the season.

There will be little time for the boys in green and white to lick their wounds, however, as they face a Saturday matinee against defending 2A state champion Sterling Newman (2-0). Game time is noon at Sterling High School’s Roscoe Eades Field for the BCR Game of the Week.

“You got two Catholic schools playing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We’ve got a good run here. Our kids are excited. I’m just thrilled our seniors got to play a little bit,” St. Bede coach Jim Eustice said. “Our JV won (12-0 over E-P Monday night). We’re just excited to be doing what we’re doing.

“It’s a heckuva opportunity for us to play on the turf and play the defending state champs. None of our kids have played on the turf, so this will be a good experience for them.”

The Bruins’ injury list is quite lengthy.

Ethan Sramek (RB/MLB) went out with a leg injury late in the Monmouth-Roseville Week 2 game and Timmy Croissant (RB) went out in the first quarter against E-P last week. Both are done for the year, Eustice said.

The Bruins coach is afraid Rylan Heersink (RT) is likely done for the year, but is hopeful Logan Link makes it back for the season is done while listing Nolan May as day to day.

“We’ve been practicing and it’s time for some of the younger guys to start getting some varsity reps. What a better opportunity than against the defending state champs,” Eustice said. “We’re going to keep plugging away and keep coaching them up and see what happens. Hopefully, we’ll put on a good showing Saturday.”

The St. Bede program has put on a real good showing thus far, standing 5-0 between the varsity (3-0) and JV (2-0).

“I knew that on the varsity level we were going to be competitive, because we had so much experience coming back,” Eustice said. “You don’t know what’s going on with everybody else given the time and circumstances. We’ve just been focused on what we do. We’ve had success so far and our kids are doing everything we ask of them.”

Newman is the reigning 2A state champions, having defeated Nashville 35-14 in the 2019 title game. The Comets took the first week off before opening with a 42-0 win over Bureau Valley and then downing Morrison 14-7.

The Bruins haven’t played the Comets since the 2016 season, bowing out in the second round of the 2A playoffs at home. It was the second of two losses at the hands of the Comets in the final three weeks of the 2016 season.

And while longtime coach Mike Papoccia retired after the 2018 season, Eustice said things haven’t changed much in the Newman camp under new head coach Brandon Krezcmer, who guided the Comets to the 2A state crown in his first year.

“Yeah, they’re the same old Newman,” Eustice said. “Brandon worked for coach Papoccia quite a few years. They haven’t changed too much when you watch them on film. They’re so disciplined. They’re so good and don’t make many mistakes.”

Kreczmer knows the Bruins will come ready to play.

“St. Bede is playing great football right now. Coach Eustice has done a great job with this team and will be coming in ready to go against us,” he said. “Offensively they are explosive and go as Damerell goes. He is a dynamic-dual-threat athlete. Defensively, they are sound and physical at the point of attack. We will have to be on our A game to be successful come Saturday.”

St. Bede (3-0) at Sterling Newman (2-0)

Gametime: Noon Saturday, Sterling High School.

Last meeting: Newman 49-20 (second round 2016 playoffs).

Last week: St. Bede beat E-P 24-21; Newman beat Morrison 14-7.

All-time series: Newman 13-3.

Radio: WSOG 88.9 FM.

Kevin Hieronymus

Kevin has been sports editor of the BCR for more than 34 years and previously was sports editor of the St. Louis Daily News, Morton Tazewell News and ISU Daily Vidette. He is a 2021 inductee into the IBCA Hall of Fame as a media member and has won numerous IPA press awards.