Raiders’ ‘Red Wall’ chasing an 83-year-old record

Story and Photos By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

In 1936, the average cost of a new house was $3,925. Gasoline was 10 cents a gallon for your new $665 Studebaker automobile, assuming you earned an annual salary of about $1,713.

That year, Margaret Mitchell’s epic story of the old South, “Gone With the Wind,” was published.

Jesse Owens’ speed embarrassed Hitler’s show of German power at the Berlin Olympics, and the luxury liner Queen Mary made its maiden voyage.

But the history question I’ve been most asked is when was the last time a New Orleans high school football team held its opponents without a touchdown through the first six weeks of the season?

You may have guessed it by now. It was 1936, the fall in which the Warren Easton  Eagles completed the regular season by shutting out its nine opponents, then added a 10th in the South Louisiana playoffs before losing the Class A state championship to Haynesville, 7-0.

Last Saturday, Archbishop Rummel’s 30-0 defeat of Catholic League rival Brother Martin marked the first time in 83 years a school from the tri-parish area has accomplished that feat.

Entering Week 7 against Holy Cross, Coach Nick Monica’s defensive juggernaut has allowed just two field goals (one each against Charlotte Catholic and Oak Grove, Mississippi on the road). The Raiders’ three other opponents have failed to cross the Red Wall’s goal line.

But Holy Cross, which demoralized Warren Easton, 49-26, last week, takes a 31-point scoring average into the Oct. 18 game at Gormley.

Unreachable goal

Unless the Raiders can hold their remaining four regular-season and their first Division I playoff opponent out of their end zone, Easton will continue to hold the mark.

Regardless, the Eagles, coached by the great Johnny Brechtel, have already clinched the record for consecutive shutouts.

During that near-perfect season, the Old Gold and Purple blanked Slidell, Morgan City, Baton Rouge High, Peters, Behrman, Fortier, St. Aloysius, Holy Cross and Jesuit.

In that final game of the regular season, Jesuit was also undefeated and had yielded just 25 points through its eight victories.

The season finale, played before 33,000 spectators at Tulane Stadium, was a defensive struggle until it was decided late in the game on a pass from halfback Lenny Fresh to end Billy Brinkman, who caught the ball in the end zone while falling to his knees. Brechtel labeled it as, simply, “The Catch.”

In the South Louisiana championship game the next week, Easton and Jennings played to a scoreless tie. Even though the LHSAA did not install a tiebreaker rule until 1937, the Eagles were awarded the victory on first downs, 4-3.

But that’s where the magic ended.

The streak came to a bitter end when North Louisiana champ, Haynesville, scored the only points of the title game.

Playoffs preview

With just four weeks remaining in the season, the top four Division I teams, by power rankings, are 1. Catholic; 2. Rummel; 3. John Curtis; and 4. Brother Martin. All would have byes in the first playoff round.

The remaining order of the select schools lists 5. Scotlandville (5-1), 6. Jesuit (4-2), 7. Holy Cross (4-2), 8. St. Augustine (3-3), 9. St. Paul’s (3-3), 10. Archbishop Shaw (2-4), 11. Byrd (1-5), 12. McKinley (1-5).

Catholic High has one last test to pass to remain in the top spot. That will come in the final game against Dutchtown, also sporting a 6-0 record. St. Amant (4-2) could also be a spoiler.

Following its game with Holy Cross, Rummel has St. Augustine, Curtis and Jesuit remaining.

The Curtis clash on Oct. 26 will be the marquee game of the season. Entering their Oct. 18 game against Jesuit, the Patriots have averaged 53 points in a show of offensive power.

But the brunt of their schedule still lies ahead against four district rivals with a combined record of 19-5.

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

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