Winning with defense has been the theme in St. Michael the Archangel’s short era under coach Joey Sanchez. That theme will be put to the test in a non-district game against The Dunham School.
The 7 p.m. Thursday game at Dunham's stadium located off Siegen Lane matches two 2-0 teams from different classes/select divisions.
Trying to rebound from a 3-7 mark last year, the Class 4A/Division II Warriors have allowed 17 points in two games under their first-year coach Sanchez. A 14-7 victory against Episcopal was followed by a 33-10 win against KIPP Renaissance of New Orleans.
Though Dunham is a Class 2A/Division III school, the game is a many ways a step up for St. Michael.
“Mr. (Derek) Stingley is a very impressive player but he’s not the only weapon coach (Neil) Weiner has over there,” Sanchez said. “The (Treylon) Mouton kid one of the top running backs in the city. It’s a formidable task for us to slow those guys down.”
Sanchez hopes his a defense led by seven returning starters and a clock-eating offense can limit scoring chances for the explosive Tigers. Sanchez, who took over in March, said his players have responded well.
“We’re excited; the kids have bought into our system and worked hard,” he said. “We’re fortunate to get off to 2-0 start. We had too many kids in baseball to have spring practice, so we took the five extra days in the fall. The kids had a good summer and good preseason and it’s shown the first couple of weeks.”
Chris Sehring ran for both touchdowns against Episcopal, and the Warrior defense stopped the Knights, a district rival of Dunham, on four tries in overtime. Sanchez said senior quarterback Cole Garafola is getting better every week running the option. Sehring and linebacker Taylor Marcello have led the defense.
“They’ve done a good job with their triple option offense,” Weiner said. “They like to play keep away, control the ball and eat up the clock.”
Dunham has won two shootouts, beating Central (36-34) and Baker (50-26). Stingley has scored three touchdowns while quarterback Reed Godbery and receiver Devin Taylor have teamed up for a pair of TD passes. Taylor topped 100 yards receiving against Baker.
“Reed has been outstanding,” Weiner said. “He’s got a quick release and good understanding where the ball needs to be going before it’s snapped. Derek has been really good; he hardly came off the field against Central and had two interceptions. Our linebackers Connor Bown and Nic Suire have done a good job, making a lot of plays in the backfield. We’re on the path we want, but we had 11 penalties against Baker and were able to overcome some of those things. We’re working hard and trying to correct it and make sure it doesn’t become routine.”