Good news at St. Aug outweighs big loss for now
St. Augustine friends and family received some good news on Tuesday, which may temporarily soothe some of the sting the Catholic League’s defending football champion was feeling from an Oct. 11 loss to Gentilly rival Brother Martin.
On the field, the Crusaders avenged back-to-back routs by the then-Leonard Fournette-led Purple Knights by scoring a resounding 41-29 victory.
The lopsided win by the 6-0 ‘Saders was a grand turnaround from the 59-7 and 49-21 whippings imposed by the Knights in 2012 and 2013.
St. Aug fans, who were getting used to football victories again, have watched their teenage heroes defeat football factory John Curtis, 15-13. That changed when they lost to Martin a week later.
And it doesn’t get any easier for the reigning Catholic League champion.
Beginning with an Oct. 18 date with Archbishop Rummel, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, and ending on Nov. 7 with a game against No. 6 and 5-1 Jesuit, the remainder of the Purple Knights’ opponents have a combined record of 19 wins, 5 losses.
But enough doom and gloom. There is great news on A.P. Tureaud Avenue.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame announced on Oct. 14 that St. Augustine’s legendary football coach, Otis Washington, and the basketball team’s “Little General” of 1988-89, Avery Johnson, will be among the 2015 induction class.
Washington and Johnson will join thoroughbred trainer Frank Brothers, former UL-Monroe head football coach Pat Collins, ex-USL and Saints quarterback Jake Delhomme, former LSU running back Kevin Faulk, pro defensive back Leonard Smith and softball coach Yvette Girouard in the Class of 2015.
The induction ceremony will be held during the summer in Natchitoches.
Otis, the legend
Washington left such a legacy as the Knights’ head football coach from 1969-79, that he is still considered the measuring rod for his successors.
His state championships in 1975, 1978 and 1979 and seven district titles in 10 years set the bar so high that even the school’s most successful coach, Tony Biagas (131 wins, 57 losses), did not get the notoriety he deserved.
In his short decade calling the shots on the Knights’ sideline, Otis accrued a record of 106-26-1, which would have been greater had his 1972 team not been forced to forfeit seven wins because of an ineligible player he was not aware of.
But the last three games of the season were victories that counted, including a 17-7 win over 1971 champion Brother Martin, who was awarded the ’72 district title by default.
Johnson was a gifted, play-making guard who had a career in the NBA that lasted 16 years. He played for six teams, most notably the San Antonio Spurs from 1994-2001, which he helped win the 1998-99 league championship.
Although undrafted out of Southern University, Johnson went on to play in 1,054 regular-season NBA games (starting in 637) and 90 playoff games. He also had success as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets.
He earned NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2005-06 when Dallas went to the finals.
Volley picture bright
If you are a Catholic school volleyball fan, you may be in for a treat when the LHSAA state tournament at the Pontchartrain Center serves its first ball on Nov. 11.
The schools from the Archdiocese of New Orleans have teams seeded among the top three in Divisions I, II and IV.
St. Scholastica (25-3) is the No. 1 seed in Division II, Mount Carmel (30-2 entering the week) is the No. 2 seed behind Baton Rouge nemesis St. Joseph’s Academy (23-1) in Division I; and Pope John Paul II (26-4) is No. 2 behind McGehee (28-2) and certainly capable of winning the Division IV championship.
Mount Carmel, which was scheduled to visit rival Dominican on Oct. 14, has an excellent chance of tangling with SJA for the Division I crown. The Cubs’ only defeats came at the hands of the Redstickers. But that can be avenged in Kenner. They only have to win one match against SJA ... the last one.
Barbe is the No. 3 seed in that division but has hardly played the competition Mount Carmel and St. Joe have faced.
St. Scholastica is poised for a big ending to the season. The Doves’ only losses came against Mt. Carmel. They have won 17 straight matches since the last setback on Sept. 17. Assumption (19-5) is the No. 2 seed and St. Thomas More (16-6) is No. 3.
The spoiler could be Academy of Our Lady, whose 18-5 record and No. 6 seed serve as testimony that the Doves are a very capable opponent.
Teurlings Catholic is the top seed in Division III, but No. 7 Ursuline Academy (24-8) is no stranger to winning big matches, and don’t count out No. 9 De La Salle (18-9).
There’s no question that McGehee is the class of Division IV. But Pope John Paul II has the talent to win, and No. 5 Archbishop Hannan (20-5) is playing very well as the tournament approaches.
Two big match-ups
Rivalry week came and went with Rummel, Jesuit and Brother Martin the winners over their archrivals. But no one is breathing any easier.
The two biggest games scheduled this week are Rummel vs. St. Aug on Oct. 18 and De La Salle vs. St. Charles Catholic on Oct. 17.
St. Aug’s returning players remember the 31-28 loss that propelled Rummel into the Division I finals last year, and the Knights surely want to even their district record at the Raiders’ expense.
St. Charles (4-2) is coming off a 27-21 loss to John Curtis and needs this district win against a hot De La Salle squad, which is 5-1, for a high seed.