Tradition lives on as football rivalries get underway
When schools like Jesuit and Holy Cross faithfully compete against each other every year without fail in a series that dates back to 1922, the event becomes a Holy Game of Obligation for families, friends and alumni of the two schools.
And so it was last Friday as long lines of auto and human traffic filed into Tad Gormley Stadium past the thousands of tailgaters who donned themselves to the hilt in royal blue and white or navy and old gold to mingle among City Park’s ancient oaks outside the 74-year-old horseshoe hours before the kickoff. In all, the crowd count was just over 9,400 – a good payday for both schools in spite of the $3,000 the park charges for stadium usage.
Holy Cross head coach Barry Wilson broke with his tradition of not allowing his players to wear the “HC” logo on their helmets until they beat Jesuit by displaying the prominent decal for the game as an incentive to end the three-year drought against the Blue Jays.
The ploy might have worked better had not the Tigers made so many offensive mistakes (they threw three interceptions and lost one fumble).
Jesuit didn’t need the boost. It was clearly the better team, as Wilson later admitted, and the 37-0 score was indicative. But it could have been a closer game in this series that Jesuit leads, 53-37-1.
The victory enabled the Blue Jays (2-0) to remain in the No. 9 spot on the weekly Class 5A Top 10 poll conducted by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
The Jays had too much fire power on offense and on defense. Remember they beat a good Hahnville team, 28-13, in Week 1. Last week Hahnville routed Istrouma, 56-0.
The loss dropped Holy Cross (0-2) from the Class 4A ranking. I would imagine that in the weeks to come the Tigers will re-assert themselves as a Top 10 contender. They just need to get one win on their side.
The Catholic beat
In another local Catholic school rivalry that dates back to 1969, Brother Martin’s 30-22 defeat of St. Augustine in the “Battle for Gentilly” knocked the Purple Knights out of the Class 4A Top 10 as well.
Martin is now 2-0 and looking like a contender in what is shaping up to be an exciting District 9-5A race. Like the 2-0 Crusaders, three other district members – Jesuit, Chalmette and West Jefferson – are unbeaten in two games. The fifth, Archbishop Rummel, is 1-0, having had their rivalry game with Archbishop Shaw doused by Tropical Storm Lee.
The Crusaders received an offensive punch when basketball standout Jabbar Singleton joined the team as a quarterback. His speed gives some impetus to the ground attack after the graduation loss of All-State tailback Danté Butler, now on the Tulane roster.
While Martin still has not attracted a lot of attention from the 5A pollsters, it has three more opportunities for non-district victories with subsequent games against Central Lafourche, John Ehret and Higgins before the serious league competition begins.
Back-to-back defeats by Holy Cross and St. Aug, the District 10-4A preseason picks, make East Jefferson (1-0) the team to beat at this point.
Two schools from the Archdiocese of New Orleans took their places as No. 1 in their respective classes.
St. Paul’s showed poise and maturity in its come-from-behind 15-14 victory over Acadiana, the 2010 Class 5A champion and 2011 top team on Sept. 10. That victory propelled the Wolves from No. 4 past Dutchtown, West Jefferson and Acadiana into the top spot.
The win marked the second straight week the Wolves knocked off a No. 1. Karr was the preseason top team in 4A prior to a 38-7 shallacking on Aug. 31.
St. Charles Catholic’s 48-7 rout of Vandebilt Catholic kept the Comets 10 points ahead of No. 2 Patterson in the 3A poll.
The Comets’ immediate schedule has no upsets in the making. The combined record of their next four opponents is 1-7.