St. Joe LeBlond dominates Lathrop
By Matt Gleaves The St. Joseph News-Press
Tony Dudik reminded his team of a mid-season upset bid in preparation for Wednesday’s Class 2 District 8 semifinal. Bishop LeBlond’s veteran coach didn’t bring up the close contest during the Midland Empire Conference slate to return the memory of the outcome. Instead, Dudik wanted his players to remember how to defend a wing-T, run-heavy offense.
Tony Dudik reminded his team of a mid-season upset bid in preparation for Wednesday’s Class 2 District 8 semifinal.
Bishop LeBlond’s veteran coach didn’t bring up the close contest during the Midland Empire Conference slate to return the memory of the outcome. Instead, Dudik wanted his players to remember how to defend a wing-T, run-heavy offense.
The recent-history lesson paid off.
The third-seeded Golden Eagles completely shut down Lathrop’s dominant running attack to knock off the Mules 34-0 at Lathrop Middle School in a rematch of last year’s district title game. The Eagles advance to take on Lawson in search of the program’s first district title since 1993.
LeBlond couldn’t quite complete a huge upset of Class 3 No. 1-ranked Maryville during the regular season, but the lessons learned helped reverse the outcome of last year’s Class 2 District 8 title matchup, a dominant victory for Lathrop.
“We learned a lot from that Maryville game,” Dudik said. “We found some stunts and twists up front that worked real well, and they worked again. Our defense played an outstanding game.”
LeBlond (6-5) held the Mules to just 108 yards rushing with senior Robert Askren accounting for 58.
After playing a mostly Class 3 and Class 4 schedule, the Eagles defense shut out second-seeded Lathrop for the first time since KCI Conference foe Mid-Buchanan held the Mules scoreless in early October 2011.
With the LeBlond defense keeping Lathrop (9-2) in check, a reliable and familiar combination connected on the other side to provide the points.
Quarterback Matthew McCullough found fellow senior Patrick Dillon for three touchdown passes, including a 72-yard strike early in the third quarter to give the Eagles the final surge of momentum.
“(The passing game) was big for us,” said McCullough, who threw for 190 yards on 8-of-14 accuracy. “Coach Dudik always tells us that no matter what the conditions are, you have to be able to throw the ball to win, and we did.”
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