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Bishop’s Knights mounting a charge at playoff championship

Throughout the many years that The Bishop’s School fielded an eight-man football team, the Knights put together many great seasons. A few years back, though, the Knights moved up to the traditional 11-man game, and judging by their success on the gridiron this fall, they haven’t had much trouble with the transition.

Bishop’s entered the week of Nov. 5 owning a perfect 8-0 record, and with one game remaining in the regular season - a Nov. 9 trip to Francis Parker - appeared primed to earn the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the CIF San Diego Section Division IV playoffs.

It has been a tremendous season by all accounts, but not one that has surprised second-year coach Mike David.

“It’s nice to see a great work ethic rewarded with the victories,” David said. “I think there are a couple reasons we can point to. Number one, the offseason training that these guys committed to was amazing. These guys lifted for two hours a day during the summer. They hit it really hard, and that has a lot to do with how we’re playing now. We tell them during the summer that what they’re doing then will pay off, and it’s nice when it does. As far as our team itself, our defense has played exceptionally well, and when you have that, you’re going to be successful.”

The Knights aren’t just any old undefeated team - they have been as dominant perhaps as any team in the area this season. Their smallest margin of victory has been 35 points.

In each of their eight games, the Knights have scored at least 38 points and have allowed no more than eight. They have averaged 47.5 points scored while allowing an average of just 4.5, and if you were to add up all the points scored against them this season, it still wouldn’t be enough (36) to match their lowest point total scored in a single game (38).

When David raves about his defense, he talks most glowingly about linebackers Michael Strauss and Will Peck. Strauss leads the team with 59 tackles this season (an average of 7.4 tackles per game), and is followed closely by Peck, with 49 (a 6.1 average).

“It’s not really even been just one person on the defense, but the whole unit that’s responsible for our success,” David said. “We don’t allow opposing offenses to do too much, so our defense isn’t on the field a ton. Our defense has given the offense the ball quite a bit.”

Strauss has also factored heavily in the Knights’ offensive success, leading the team with 610 yards and 10 touchdowns on 77 rushing attempts. And thanks to Jacob Kelly’s 604 yards and four scores on 59 carries, Bishop’s has been nearly unstoppable on the ground.

The Knights’ passing game has remarkably kept afloat despite an injury to their standout starting quarterback. Senior Tommy Wornham missed the team’s third through seventh games with a broken clavicle, but returned last week and appeared as though he hadn’t missed a beat. Wornham has completed a remarkable 49 of his 56 passes this season for a whopping 770 yards and 12 touchdowns with just one interception.

In Wornham’s absence, David installed running back Tim Costello as the signal caller, and he filled in capably. Running mostly an option offense, he still completed 14 of 20 passes for 262 yards and seven scores.

Costello leads the Knights with 13 touchdwowns this season.

“We’ve had some people step in and play positions they weren’t planning to play at the beginning of the year, and that’s been huge,” David said. “Those guys have just done an incredible job.”

David expects that, with a win against Francis Parker on Nov. 9, Bishop’s would get either the Number one or two seed in the playoffs, with the other spot going to Christian. That, of course, is notable because the Knights were scheduled to face Christian on Oct. 27, but the game was cancelled due to the wildfires that ravaged San Diego County.

If the playoff bracket were to work out like it is designed and Bishop’s and Christian won their way through to the championship game, they would meet for the title. And while David doesn’t want to get ahead of himself, that’s a matchup he is looking forward to. He said he is glad the potential matchup wouldn’t represent a second meeting between the two teams, as he feels his club would have a better chance of winning by keeping its cards close to the vest.

“I’m actually more comfortable not having faced a team like that,” David said. “But we’re very much aware that we’re going to see some of the teams from our league in the playoffs. So we know it’s going to be a challenge.”