Finally, the day has arrived.
John Curtis makes its long-awaited and much-anticipated Catholic League debut at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Tad Gormley Stadium.
Curtis plays Brother Martin in a battle of two of the top two teams not only in the city, but the entire state.
The Crusaders (3-0) are ranked No. 2 in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10 and No. 5 in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 5A poll.
The Patriots (3-0) are third in both rankings.
“It’s a big game, that’s for sure,” Curtis senior offensive lineman Jake Charpentier said.
“But we know what it’s like to play good teams. We like it better in this district. It’s a lot better getting a challenge every week. That’s what we want to do.”
It’ll be the fourth meeting between the Patriots and Crusaders, with Curtis having won all three meetings.
They won all three by double digits (14-0 in 1989, 38-6 in 1990 and 40-20 last season in the semifinals of the Division I playoffs).
The Patriots have had similar success against the other members of the Catholic League as well. Longtime coach J.T. Curtis is 18-4 all-time against the current Catholic League teams.
Brother Martin hopes to put a dent in that record and get their first win over the nation’s active winningest coach.
There likely won’t be any surprises from J.T. Curtis, whose record is now 543-58-6.
It’ll be a strong dose of a potent running game.
Curtis quarterback Brock Hebert has thrown just seven passes all season.
“They are always very physical and very mature and very football savvy,” Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis said. “They don’t make a whole bunch of mistakes, and they’re able to capitalize on others’ mistakes. They look like a machine. Year in and year out, no matter who graduates, they get the next guy to fill in. They are just very good with what they do.”
Senior running back Devon Benn has been the Patriots’ main weapon, rushing for 414 yards and five touchdowns. He also has a punt return for a touchdown in the season opener against Landry-Walker. Hebert has five rushing touchdowns as well.
The Crusaders counter with their own machine. Junior running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling has rushed 72 times for 819 yards and 17 touchdowns in just three games.
“He’s a quality back, and as good as anyone we’ve played recently,” J.T. Curtis said.
Jordan-Swilling also has a receiving touchdown.
“He’s a really good back and we will have to try to contain him and try not to let him get big runs on us,” Curtis linebacker Kevin Milton said.
Despite Jordan-Swilling’s gaudy rushing numbers, the Crusaders offense is more balanced than most think. Jake Broggi has completed 32 of 51 passes for 582 yards and four touchdowns.
“Bruce has done some great things running the football,” Bonis said. “But we throw it a good bit. If you look at our receivers, it’s a balanced attack. It’s been fun to watch different guys get the balls and taking what the defense gives us.”
Bonis, seeking his first win over the Patriots, is looking forward to the challenge.
“From when we took over, we want to see how far we’ve come,” he said. “I’m excited about it, and our kids are excited.”