St. Aloysius football book offers historic snippets
If you are a local prep sports fan and a New Orleans history buff, you will thoroughly enjoy reading Sacred Heart Brother Neal Golden’s self-published book titled, “St. Aloysius Football (1921-1968): The Men Who Never Say Die.”
Aside from detailing every game the Panthers/Saints/Crusaders played over a 47-year span, Brother Neal expertly chronicles events that not only changed the game of football but also the relationships of public and Catholic schools over the decades.
You will find that rela- tionships between the two factions have changed little since 1929, when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association first admitted a small number of non-public schools into its fraternity.
Public schools have an infamous history of trying to stifle the private schools, the book points out.
➤ Nine months before the 1946 season began, the LHSAA had to fend off a movement that would have ended private-school participation in the association.
On Jan. 9, football coaches from the state’s AA public high schools met in Alexandria to discuss the formation of a conference similar to Mississippi’s “Big Eight.”
The first attempt to split
New Orleans Item writer Hap Glaudi revealed the public schools’ real intentions. He noted that while the new organization would claim allegiance to the LHSAA, it would prohibit its members from “engaging a Catholic prep school in state championship athletic playoffs. However, the conference would permit members to play Catholic schools in city and inter-city play.”
The LHSAA’s voting body apparently had more common sense than its present-day cast of characters because it voted the plan into oblivion, 51-16.
Catholic High’s principal, Sacred Heart Brother Peter, singled out Istrouma’s football coach “Fuzzy” Brown as the coup’s main antagonist and orator. Brown’s team lost a playoff semifinal round game to eventual state champion Holy Cross, 33-32, on a missed PAT the season before.
➤ The year 1952 brought a major change in the New Orleans Prep League’s make-up, Brother Neal wrote.
“Some public schools had gone coed: Warren Easton, Alcee Fortier and John McDonogh, the last moving the opposite way from an all-girls’ school.
“De La Salle would field a football team but would play a limited schedule in preparation for joining the AA league in 1953-54.”
➤ Again, in 1954, there came another scare:
St. Aloysius joined with other schools to form a new conference called the “Big Twelve,” fashioned after Mississippi’s “Big Eight.”
The new group consisted of schools frustrated by the LHSAA’s tardiness in forming a Class AAA for larger schools: Istrouma, Baton Rouge High, Terrebonne, Bogalusa, Sulphur, Lake Charles High and LaGrange, plus St. Aloysius, Warren Easton, Holy Cross and Fortier.
LHSAA Commissioner "Muddy" Waters, worried that the schools would bolt the association, proposed a AAA classification consisting of schools with 500 or more male students. Furthermore, schools with 400-500 boys could play up to AAA, subject to a three-fourths vote of the membership of the new classification. The principals approved the plan at their convention (and staved off another mutiny).
More changes to come
➤ Another major change affected the Prep League in 1955.
Brother Neal writes, “With the growth in the number of AAA schools, now including consolidated schools on both sides of the (Mississippi) river in Jefferson Parish, the principals separated into Catholic and Public Leagues.
“Catholic League: De La Salle, Holy Cross, Jesuit, Redemptorist, St. Aloysius.” (Editor’s note: Holy Name of Mary would be added in 1956, but would have a brief stay).
“Public League: Easton, Fortier, McDonogh, Nicholls, (and the newly built) East Jefferson and West Jefferson, the latter two not eligible for championship honors for 1955-56.”
Only games within the division would count toward a division title. The winners of the two divisions would play for the City Championship.
➤ The LHSAA expanded its AAA playoffs for 1957. Five playoff districts were created. The New Orleans Catholic and Public leagues would no longer be considered sub-districts, but rather two separate districts: 4-AAA for public schools and 5-AAA for Catholic schools.
No longer was there a need for a city championship game because the champion of each district gained an automatic berth in the AAA playoffs.
“Looking to the future,” Brother Neal writes, “some football trends continued during the turbulent Sixties.”
He noted that two-platoon football took over the sport, with only a handful of iron men playing both ways and then only in key games.
Passing played an increasingly prominent role as high school coaches copied what they saw at the college and pro levels, where the new American Football League succeeded in challenging the NFL by running wide-open, pass-filled attacks.
A final expansion
➤ The Catholic League continued to expand in the 1960s with the addition of Archbishop Rummel (1966), Archbishop Shaw (1967) and Cor Jesu (1968).
“But the most signi cant addition was St. Augustine High School, which went to federal court to force the LHSAA to admit the rst African-American school,” the book notes in its 1960s section.
“Other members of the LIALO, the black association, followed St. Augustine’s lead. By the end of the decade, all public schools in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes were at least nominally integrated.”
The end came for St. Aloysius football in 1967, and a new history began.
“Facing a huge debt, Archbishop Philip Hannan indefinitely postponed the construction of a new St. Aloysius High School in Harahan. So the provincial, Brother Huber, abrogated the contract with the archdiocese in February 1967.
“The council began exploring the feasibility of upgrading the facilities at 1127 Esplanade Ave., starting with the construction of a new residence for the brothers. However, architects and contractors warned that any significant addition to the cramped campus would entail shutting down the school for a year to make room for the construction equipment.
“So the provincial council voted unanimously in October 1967 to amalgamate St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu for the 1969-70 school year,” Brother
The Crusaders’ final season was a bittersweet one. Sweet was the Crimson and White’s 27-6 win over Shaw in its last game. Bitter was a 14-13 loss to Cor Jesu, whose first football team would include players from both former schools.
This book is of significant historical importance. Copies are available from the Brother Martin Alumni office or www.brothermartin.com.