Don’t let Trey LaForge and Foster Moreau fool you.
When the two Jesuit standouts were asked about Friday’s showdown with rival Holy Cross, they had this to say:
“It’s just another game for us, and we are going to play it like it’s just another game,” said LaForge, Jesuit’s quarterback.
Moreau, one of his favorite targets, chimed in with this:
“This is the biggest game because it’s the next game. I want to win this one just as bad as I want to win the rest of the games this season.”
Nope, I’m not buying it.
The Holy Cross vs. Jesuit game, which kicks off Friday at 7:15 p.m. at Tad Gormley Stadium, is MUCH bigger than that.
The Tigers and Blue Jays (or Blue Jays and then Tigers if you’re a Jesuit fan) will meet for the 93rd time, the longest continuous rivalry in the state and one of the oldest in the U.S.
Just ask Holy Cross middle linebacker Adrian Richardson how big it is. “It’s bigger than you can imagine,” Richardson said. “I have people I don’t even know blowing my phone up.”
Or ask Richardson’s grandmother, who was riding the train from San Antonio to New Orleans.
“And people on the train were talking about it,” Richardson said.
It’s why Holy Cross geometry teacher Alvin Mahler has all of the signs plastered all over his classroom this week encouraging the Tigers to “Beat Jesuit.”
The game is so big that not even Hurricane Katrina could stop the teams from playing in 2005.
“I remember teams scraping up uniforms just so we could play that year,” Holy Cross coach Eric Rebaudo said. “That one means a lot to the guys who graduated that year and the coaches and everybody. That was special.”
Jesuit coach Mark Songy expects a crowd of 15,000 at Gormley on Friday night in the Catholic League opener for both teams. It helps that it’s the only Catholic League game of the night, with Brother Martin playing St. Augustine and Shaw playing Rummel on Saturday.
“I was just telling the kids about the immensity of this game,” Songy said. “It’s gotten to be so big, and we are excited to play in it. The way we approach it is as a matter of a fact game. The emotion and enthusiasm takes care of itself.”
Jesuit leads the all-time series 54-38-1.
But Holy Cross has had bragging rights the past 365 days. It was a 35-yard field goal as time expired off the golden foot of Reed Gravolet that brought the Golden Football Trophy back to Tiger Land last season. Before that, Jesuit had won five straight games in the series.
Holy Cross is looking for rare back-to-back wins against Jesuit, something that hasn’t happened since 1985 and 1986 when the Tigers capped off a five-year reign in the series. None of the current Tigers were born then.
But the coaches were, and they all too well just how big the rivalry is.
Rebaudo is in his first season after serving 13 years as defensive coordinator under Barry Wilson, who stepped down to become the athletic director.
Songy is in his second stint in charge of the Blue Jays, taking over after Wayde Keiser suddenly announced his retirement this summer because of family reasons.
Songy coached the Blue Jays from 1992-1996. He went 4-1 in those games, shutting out the Tigers three times.
“It was one sided back then because we were really good and they were having some down years,” Songy recalled. “Lately it’s been more back and forth.”
Both teams sport 4-1 records, winning four straight after dropping their season openers by identical 24-21 scores (Jesuit lost to Ponchatoula, Holy Cross to Covington).
Both team have plenty of playmakers.
LaForge is one of the area’s top passers and has big-play weapons like Moreau, receiver Kalija Lipscomb and backs Charles Jackson and Chris Mills.
Holy Cross counters with quarterback Kyle Schexnayder, running back Tre Turner and wide receiver Michael Chigbu. Richardson, who plays middle linebacker, is the leading tackler for a Holy Cross defense that hopes to slow down LaForge and Company.
“We know them, and they know us,” Rebaudo said. “It’s polite off the field. But on the field, it’s going to be a 3-hour battle.”
Moreau agrees with that.
“We’ll get in the game Friday night and hate whoever is lined up against us, “ Moreau said. “But after the game, we’ll shake hands and wish them good luck the rest of the season.”