Although the 2016 prep football season is just into week three, there is one St. Charles County team that clearly has captured the attention of many in the Bi-State region.
St Dominic, who rallied in the fourth quarter to beat defending Class 2 champion John Burroughs in week one at home, followed that performance up with a victory over 2015 Class 4 semifinalist Westminster Christian Academy on the road last Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders finished 6-6 last fall, and are 2-0 for the first time in four years and while many may be surprised by the superb early start, fourth-year coach Blake Markway and his players are not shocked at all.
The early success in large part has been a carryover from the 2015 season, which saw the St. Dominic win three of its last four games, and advance to the championship round of the Class 4 district playoffs in the process.
“It’s been a few years coming as far as all the work the kids have put in with the weight program, that’s been the number one thing is the kids being committed there,” Markway said. “This senior class were sophomores when I came in three years ago and they have really bought in right away and you’re seeing all the work pay off.”
That hard work was evident in the opener on August 19 at home against Burroughs as the Crusaders overcame a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to shock the Bombers 27-26 as senior quarterback Dominic Demerath hit senior wide out Alex Hoff with a 14-yard touchdown pass to give the Crusaders a season-opening win at home. Demerath accounted for three touchdowns.
Demerath, a dual threat signal caller who can run and throw it well, said that the seeds for early success were planted back last season and in the summer.
“I feel like it really started off this summer and that we kind of got the feeling of what it took to win last year and the work ethic it takes to do all that type of stuff,” Demerath said. “So, from week one this year, we came out with that type work ethic and we saw the benefits of what can happened when we win.”
Last Saturday, Demerath and Co. proved that week one was no joke by going into Westminster, and stifling the Wildcats for a 19-11 win. Demerath scored on runs of two and four yards and senior running back Jacob Larson exploded for 150 yards rushing on 24 carries.
Westminster super back Steve Webb was held to a measly 44 yards on the ground by the Crusaders physical and stingy senior-led defense.
“Westminster’s a team our group of seniors had played for three years now”, Demerath said. “We knew what to expect as far as their heavy-hitters were and it’s been kind of one of those things we were hungry to do. We enjoy the challenge because we just like to compete.”
The Crusaders are more than just Demerath and Demerath was quick to point that out. Hoff, Larson, senior defensive end/guard Max Messer, senior middle linebacker/fullback Jacob Jones, junior lineman Josh Stiffler, and junior fullback/linebacker Theo Pardee all work together form the core of the Crusaders roster.
Better chemistry has also given the Crusaders the confidence to start strong as well. “I feel like this year compared to years before, we all trust each other so much more,” Demerath said. “This year we’re just going with the flow and trusting each other in what we can do.”
Markway believes the team is finally showing what it is capable of on the field, and is looking forward to what the rest of the season brings.
“This is not something that just magically happened,” Markway said. “It’s a lot of sweat and hard work the kids put in and all we’re worried about is week by week and every week we’re going to come out focused to keep this going.”