The 47th edition of the Brother Martin-St. Augustine series features two teams that have thrived on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Brother Martin, ranked second in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10 and third in Class 5A by the LSWA, boasts a dynamic offense averaging 52.5 points per game. St. Augustine, conversely, has leaned on a defense that’s allowed 13 points per game over the past two, which helped lead the team to the first win in the Al Jones era.
Offensive firepower will meet defensive prowess at 7 p.m. Saturday at Tad Gormley Stadium when these two Gentilly schools meet. Both carry 1-0 marks in Catholic League play, and both understand they’ll have their work cut out for them for that to continue.
“It’s a rivalry game, obviously, and we’re not going to change our approach or anything we’re doing,” Martin coach Mark Bonis said. “We have a balanced offense, believe it or not. We’re trying to get better in all three phases. It’s a process, and we believe in it.”
“Our defense has been right there,” said Jones. “We’ve been a yard, a dropped ball, a missed fumble or interception away from having a victory. That all came together against Jesuit. We know it’s going to be a tough contest (against Brother Martin), and our defense will have to play its ‘A’ game. They have a powerful offense, and we’re going to need everything we can to stop it.”
Martin improved to (4-0, 1-0) with a 40-37 overtime defeat of John Curtis in the team’s District 9-5A opener last weekend. Crusaders running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling continued his torrid junior campaign with 178 yards and three touchdowns as his team avenged a state semifinal loss from a year ago.
The win marked Martin’s first in three games against Curtis, but more importantly, signaled growth as a program.
“We didn’t stress revenge, but our team as a whole grew,” said Bonis, who is 2-4 against St. Aug and is attempting to start 5-0 for the third time.
“We believe in several principles: team, toughness, competing and finishing. We grew up a little in those facets and became more of a team that’s tough, finishing, competing and finally finishing a game. That was a signature win as a program and as a group of men.”
The Knights (1-3, 1-0) snapped a five-game losing skid dating to 2014 with a 32-20 defeat of Jesuit, which ended their season in the playoffs in November. The defense forced its first five turnovers of the season, including three by Cordie Johnson, who had an interception and recovered two fumbles.
After downing the defending Division I state champs, St. Aug must now find a way to slow down Jordan-Swilling, who’s racked up 993 yards rushing and 20 total touchdowns this season.
Discipline, Jones said, will be pivotal.
“It’s more about what we do than what other teams do,” he said. “We have to hold to our assignments, remember fundamentals, run to the football and gang tackle. Jordan-Swilling is an outstanding back, a big kid and they run him a lot. We need to take care of our end of the bargain on defense, and that’s all we can do.”