It’s ‘Rivalry Week’

Story and Photos By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

It has been 23 years since a school from the three-parish metro area entered the fifth week of the football season without allowing a single touchdown to the opposition.

That occurred in 1996, the year “The Macarena” became a worldwide hit, the electronic gamers were introduced to Pokemon and Bill Clinton was re-elected as president of the U.S.

West Jefferson accomplished that feat by blanking three opponents: Fortier, Edna Karr and Higgins and holding Hahnville to a field goal.

Now you may add Archbishop Rummel to the abbreviated list following the Raiders’ demonstrative 41-0 rout of Ruston on Sept. 28.

The Catholic League powerhouse enters its next week at the halfway point of the season with a 4-0 record following wins over Charlotte Catholic (7-3), Slidell (37-0) and Oak Grove, Mississippi (7-3), and their first home game against Ruston.

The Raiders’ Jefferson Parish rival, Archbishop Shaw, hopes to end all that when the two clash at Joe Yenni Stadium on Oct. 5

It’s “Rivalry Week,” when the extra adrenalin rush athletes get when competing against archrivals can render the unusual to happen.

And, “Rivalry Week” matches teams that define what Catholic League tradition is all  about.

Shaw enters the 55th playing for the “Megaphone” with a 2-2 record and is on the short end of a 31-23 series record.

The series was an annual toss-up until 2009 when Rummel won the first of eight consecutive victories. The last six have been by large deficits.

How times have changed.

Between 1986-1998, Shaw’s Eagles ruled the roost by winning 14 in a row before that string was snapped by a Shaw forfeit.

Under head coach Tommy Connors, a prominent defensive back when he wore the green and white, the Eagles enter the game with a 2-2 record but are coming off a 55-13 loss to Holy Cross at home.

But win, lose or draw, a single touchdown against the superior Raiders might kickstart the Eagles during what is shaping up to be a difficult district campaign.

‘Holy Game of Obligation’

For the 100th time, Jesuit and Holy Cross will hold their  celebration of high school football.

This is the state’s oldest continuous rivalry (although the 1937 game was ruled a “no contest” by the LHSAA in a match both schools claimed as a victory). It is also the nation’s fifth-oldest rivalry.

Jesuit has won 58 times to Holy Cross’ 40. Another game ended in a tie.

The 7:15 p.m. Oct. 4 crowd may hardly resemble the 1940 game in the City Park horseshoe that drew a record 34,345 spectators. But those who plan to be part of this historic meeting had better get there early.

Tailgaters will take over Marconi Drive – blue and white on one side of the stadium’s main entrance and navy and gold on the other.

The game is just part of the gala, which includes live music, a parade and recognition of the schools’ 1969 teams, which were ranked at the top of Class AAA for most of the season.

Holy Cross enters the clash on a three-game victory streak since losing to St. Thomas More four weeks ago. The Tigers have since beaten  Covington, Chalmette and Shaw as the visiting team to all.

While the Tigers may be rolling, Jesuit has experienced some early woes.

After beating Terrebonne on the road, the Blue Jays have lost two of their last three games. They sandwiched a win over Helen Cox between losses at St. Paul’s and, last week, to district rival Brother Martin.

The 31-7 setback was a product of Martin’s outstanding defense and a Jesuit offense that was without two injured starting wideouts.

Tales from Gentilly

Brother Martin vs. St. Augustine: Two winning programs will face off on Oct. 5 at Gormley.

The Crusaders are in the midst of a stellar season with impressive wins over Byrd, 28-0; Carver, 10-0; Ponchatoula, 45-17, and now Jesuit.

There is little question that Martin’s defense is its calling card. But over the last two weeks, the offense has produced 76 points against two respectable opponents.

St. Augustine won its first three games of the season rather handily before losing its district opener to John Curtis, 36-22. Even in defeat, the Purple Knights were competitive.

They opened the season by handing former LIALO rival McDonogh 35 a 24-13 setback, then displayed an explosive offense in victories over Landry-Walker, 44-6, and John F. Kennedy (formerly Lake Area), 43-0.

The Purple Knights lead the series, which began in 1969, 30-20. Brother Martin won last year, 17-7.

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

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