Thomas More Wins in New Coach's Debut
The actual Saints Thomas More and John Fisher were martyred within two weeks of each other in the summer of 1535. That historic notation might have been the only thing close between the two schools named after the men, as Thomas More College obliterated St. John Fisher on the football field, 48-0, in Crestview Hills on Saturday afternoon.
The win was the first for new Saints Head Coach Regis Scafe who was surprised that the score ended up so lopsided in the season’s first game.
“It’s awesome,” Scafe said of his coaching debut at Thomas More. “They’re a good team and I didn’t expect that. I wanted us to play well, the players worked hard and were ready for a good game, but they were amazing. Great job.”
It was the first time St. John Fisher was shutout in a game since 2001. The defense flew around the field all day, forcing turnovers and sacking the Cardinals' quarterbacks. The Thomas More defense held Fisher to less than 200 yards on offense on the day.
“Our defense with Chris Norwell, our defensive coordinator, did a great job pitching the shutout, and how about the offense?,” Scafe asked, elated by his team’s performance. “Offensive coordinator Trevor Stellman and staff game planned really well. Things were working that we were counting on and I’m just really proud of the coaches. Special teams were great. All of those guys did a great job. They did it. When we win, I get the credit, but they did a great job.”
The offense was sharp from the get-go as the Saints racked up a 27-0 lead by halftime.
Fourth-year starting Quarterback Jensen Gebhardt looked in control and confident, as his play-action fakes and roll-out passes were executed to perfection on his way to a four-touchdown game with no interceptions. Gebhardt left the game in the fourth quarter when the score was out of hand with 332 passing yards. His primary target on the day was senior wide out Tyler Vogelpohl who had a monster day with 207 yards receiving and two touchdown catches. Vogelpohl made the big play when the Saints needed it, pulling in a 17-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter, and a 50 yard catch and run just after halftime.
Once it became clear that Thomas More easily had the game in hand by early in the third quarter, Scafe sent in his reserves who also moved the ball nicely on offense in the second half. Local products like former Simon Kenton quarterback Brenan Kuntz and Dixie alumnus Luke Zajac contributed for 19 second half points against what was considered a pretty good defense. St. John Fisher was the 19th ranked team by D3Football.com coming into Saturday’s game, and finished last year with a 9-2 overall record, but watching the Saints backups beat up on the Cardinals speaks to the depth that Coach Scafe has to work with this season.
“A lot of those guys played the second half. In the third quarter we wanted to keep playing and hope we get a couple of scores and keep playing defense and it worked, and we got a lot of guys in,” Scafe said. “This was a game that I didn’t know. They’re an unknown. We played them three years ago and lost in overtime. Coming in here, we don’t play each other that much, so you’re really not sure what you’re getting.”
As well as the Saints played, though, it was not necessarily a flawless performance. Like most coaches, Scafe noticed a thing here or there that the team can improve upon as they work their way through the season.
“We had some offside penalties and a fumble. We didn’t turn the ball over, but we came close, so just kind of being more efficient on things. On defense we had some breakdowns. As a coach, I’ve learned this: You never play as well as you think you do when you watch the film the next day, or as bad as you do the next day, so I’m sure there’s things we’ll see.”
Thomas More stays at home for the next two games as the Saints host traditional rival Hanover on September 12 at 1 p.m. The game will be a “white-out” in memory of Thomas More football player Mitch Kramer who died in an ATV accident last month. The Saints have dedicated this season to Kramer’s behalf.