Trent Friedel | Exclusive to the Times
Saint Mary’s traveled to Menard last Friday seeking to be the homecoming spoiler and claim the first annual Bishop’s Bowl. The two Dioceses of Alexandria schools resumed a long tradition of spirited competition on the gridiron. Saint Mary’s entered the contest on the wake of a 38-6 victory over 3-A Buckeye evening their record at 1-1. Menard was 0-2 coming into the event.
Saint Mary’s, the number one team in Division IV rankings, continued to test their mettle in pre-district action. Menard kicked to the Tigers to start the game. Saint Mary’s is forced to punt but good fortune awaits as the kick is mishandled and the Tigers recover in Menard territory. Adam Parker capitalizes on the miss cue and connects with Ben Bienvenu for a 30-yard touchdown pass and Payne Williams adds the extra point. Tigers lead 7-0. The lead is short lived.
Menard returns the kick to the Tiger 26 and senior #2 Brayden Byers runs it in from 4-yards out a few plays later. The Tigers answered on a sustained drive culminating in a Graeme Fidelak 4-yard touchdown run of his own to take the lead back and Williams adds the point after. SMH 14- MHS 7. The ensuing kick is a SMH gamble. The Tigers try an on-side kick, but Menard recovers and has a short field to work with. Menard ties things up with a 2-yard Byers run and point after. Tigers 14- Eagles 14.
The senior, converted QB to RB, is running with attitude and had a majority of Menard’s 66 first half running yards. Ryan Hicks added an impressive 37-yard field goal just before the halftime break giving the Eagles the lead 17-14.
The Tiger defense made a major adjustment at the half. Defensive coordinator Steven Wren altered the front and loaded the box with as many as seven linemen to stop the run and dare Menard to do something through the air. The Eagles had punishing runs in the first half.
The shift worked and the Tigers held the Eagles scoreless in the second half. Williams punched a 39-yard field goal through the uprights with just under 6 minutes in the third quarter to tie things up at 17 each. Drake Griffin gave the Tigers the go ahead score midway through the fourth quarter on punishing runs up the middle. The sophomore DE and RB demoralized the Menard linebackers running them over and dragging them yards after initial contact.
After the score, Menard would start from deep in their own territory after the kick was fair caught inside the 5-yard line. The exclamation point score came on a Parker bootleg of the left side for a 27-yard score and Williams added the point after. Final score St. Mary’s 31, Menard 17.
The Tigers had 379 yards of total offense, 144 yards rushing and 235 through the air. Parker went 21 of 33 and no interceptions. Fidelak was the leading receiver with 7 catches for 81 yards. The inaugural Bishop’s bowl game was a thriller, and the trophy will be on East Second Street till next year. The Tigers claim the victory and spoil homecoming.
Next up for the Tigers is a little further south to Oakdale to face the 2-1 Warriors.