Purple Knights impressive in early-season games

Photos by Ron Brocato | CLARION HERALD

Fast and furious


The second weekend of prep football was action-filled as local Catholic schools clashed with non-district opponents. At left, St. Paul’s Cade Manint tugs at the facemask of Jesuit running back Brayton Whittington (24) during their game at Tad Gormley Stadium on Sept. 7. The two teams battled to the end, with Jesuit  pulling out a 34-24 victory to gain its first victory.


At right, Archbishop Rummel wide receiver Zach Mirambell (16) and Escambia (Fla.) defender Patrick Sanders vie for a high pass in the end zone in their game at Joe Yenni Stadium on Sept. 8. The visiting Gators from the Pensacola area handed the host Raiders a 21-8 setback. The three local Catholic schools are on the road this weekend. Jesuit travels to Baton Rouge to face Central; St. Paul’s heads to Memphis to meet Christian Brothers School; and 

Rummel is in Reserve to play Riverside Academy.



By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

Of the 48 minutes it takes to play a high school football game, there are just 9 1/2 to 10 minutes of action. 

That’s not easy to fathom when a game that started at 7 o’clock ends at 10, as many do.

But those few frenzied minutes following the center snap are what we are there to see, for me, as often as possible.

Understanding there’s still 80 percent of the regular season remaining, after two weeks of play, here are a few observations on what has so far transpired:

Most impressive is the new attitude and vigor at St. Augustine under head coach Nathanial Jones.

It is obvious that his coaching staff is very organized. There is no sideline chaos whatsoever. 

In the Purple Knights’ victories over McDonogh 35 and De La Salle, the offense has performed well behind the abilities of recent Georgia transfer Trevon Woodson. In a 38-20 win over De La Salle last week, Woodson completed 18 of 23 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown and rushed the ball for an additional 60 yards.

The offensive and defensive lines are wide bodies who have blocked well so far. And while Woodson continues to get comfortable in his new offense, he has two capable running backs in Mahmood Bailey and Justin Doyle to make life easier for him.

But most impressive was that the Purple Knights’ 38 points included 5-for-5 on PATs and one field goal by junior Jaron Marks II. It seems the days of St. Augustine losing games by a missed extra point may be over.

As the season progresses, with Kennedy up next, it appears that St. Augustine is the best team in the Catholic League other than John Curtis.

Similar talent levels

The Great American Rivalry Series between Holy Cross and Jesuit on Sept. 28, an annual U.S. Marine Corps-sponsored event, should be one of the most exciting of the ancient series.

New head coach Guy Lecompte has transformed Holy Cross into a solid, well-balanced team that has outscored its first two opponents  (Higgins and Covington), 83-0. This weekend is another rivalry game, matching the Tigers with former next door agitator Chalmette.

Jesuit is 1-1. The Blue Jays were overmatched by Warren Easton in their season opener  but rallied back nicely to defeat St. Paul’s, 34-24. 

There isn’t much difference in the talent levels of Holy Cross, Jesuit, St. Paul’s, Archbishop Rummel or Brother Martin that I have observed. I believe the outcome of matchups among them is one of those “any given night” propositions.  

One of the more interesting games of the week will take place in Goodbee on Sept. 14 when Pope John Paul II visits Archbishop Hannan.

Although the visiting team is a Class 2A program taking on a rising Class 3A power, it is obvious that new head coach Charlie Cryer has turned around this program, which hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2011.

Under Cryer, who has coached at Catholic schools in Vermilion Parish and Lake Charles, the Jaguars are 2-0 and hungry for a third straight win.

But under coach Scott Wattigny, the host Hawks have improved with each game, and are also 2-0 entering this northshore rivalry. Who’ll win is anybody’s guess, but one thing’s for sure – pads will pop on Friday night.

And Archbishop Shaw is looking to get its first win of the season on Sept. 15 in its new on-campus stadium when the Eagles host Vandebilt Catholic.

The game will kick off at 11:30 a.m. following a brief dedication and blessing of the stadium at 11 a.m.

  Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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