Don’t forget about Jesuit and St. Augustine on Friday night.
While the Catholic League opener between Jesuit and St. Augustine may not have created the buzz this week like Saturday’s anticipated Brother Martin-Curtis or Shaw-Holy Cross games, there’s still plenty at stake when the Blue Jays and Purple Knights kick off 7 p.m. Friday at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Steadily improving Jesuit is looking to keep its momentum going, while St. Aug is hoping to break through and give first-year coach Al Jones his first win at the school.
The Blue Jays (2-1) have won two straight after dropping its season opener to Warren Easton, beating St. Paul’s and then traveling to Pensacola (Florida) to beat Escambia last week.
They have gone from unranked in the preseason to now No. 9 in The New Orleans Advocate Large School Super 10.
“We are still young, but guys are growing up and we are getting better each week,” Jesuit coach Mark Songy said. “When you have young players, you can practice all you want. They have to get in game situations. If we could play two games a week, we would be that much better. When you have a young team, you have to play yourself through it.”
Jones, who replaced Cyril Crutchfield this season, is hoping his team can play through its early woes. The Purple Knights have dropped their first three games to McDonogh 35, Scotlandville and Landry-Walker. The losses to McDonogh 35 and Landry-Walker, both ranked in The Large School Super 10, were each by six points.
“We don’t feel like an 0-3 team,” Jones said. “We feel like we should be at least 2-1. We have to score in the red zone and stop people in the red zone. It’s all about hard work and attitude and commitment. We just have to keep working hard. I think we are just a couple plays away. It’s been a dropped ball here, a missed tackle there.”
Jones is hoping to see his team take advantage of opportunities as it plays a team it should be familiar with.Dating to last season, Friday’s game will be the third game in its last six games against the Blue Jays.
Jesuit beat St. Aug 34-20 in the 2014 regular-season finale and then turned around and beat them again 42-14 in the Division I playoffs.
“It doesn’t look like they’ve skipped a beat,” Jones said. “They are the defending state champions, they are still sound on defense and they run the ball well and play good, fundamental ball. We are looking forward to the competition.”
The Blue Jays are led on offense by quarterback Peter Hontas, running back Connor Prouet and receiver Kalija Lipscomb.
Pruitt has rushed 48 times for 322 yards and three touchdowns. He’s averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
“He has been in a rhythm the last couple weeks,” Songy said. “He is going to just continue to get better. He’s making better decisions to where he makes cuts and running at the right pad level and he just understands the plays better.”
And while Songy says his team is getting better, he said the Purple Knights are getting better as well.
“They are going to win some games,” Songy said. “I just hope it’s not against us. Defensively they are really salty and offensively they are playing better and better up front. And everybody knows about the weapons they have.”
Quarterback Justice McCoy leads the offense, along with tight end Jamal Pettigrew, an LSU commit. The defense is anchored by defensive lineman D’Andre Christmas-Giles and linebacker Giovanni LaFrance, a Tulane commit.
Songy welcomes the start of district play.
“With Curtis in the league now, it adds that much more,” Songy said. “I like that. I’m sure the other coaches do, too. I have so many young players that I have to remind them that they are now in Catholic League play. You are going to see great coaches and great players who play good sound football. The mistakes we made earlier, we aren’t getting away with those in this league.”