There’s good news and bad news for those making their way to Joe Yenni Stadium on Saturday night to watch the highly anticipated Catholic League showdown between Brother Martin and Rummel.
First the bad news (which you’ll probably consider good news if you’re a Rummel fan).
You may not get to see Brother Martin’s Bruce Jordan-Swilling in action against the tough-as-nails Raiders’ defense.
Crusaders coach Mark Bonis said after Wednesday’s practice that Jordan-Swilling is “doubtful” after hurting his ankle last week against Holy Cross.
“We’ve looked at it and he has moved around on it, but I’d say he’s doubtful and probably won’t play,” Bonis said.
The good news?
Even in Jordan-Swilling’s absence, the battle between the Raiders, ranked No. 1 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10, and the No. 3 Crusaders still should live up to the hype.
You can drive to any school in Louisiana and you probably won’t find a team with more talent on offense.
Simply put, the Crusaders’ cup of talent runneth over.
So no, Rummel coach Jay Roth wasn’t just giving coach-speak when he had this to say about the Brother Martin offense: “In all my years, I’ve never seen an offense in the Catholic League put up those kind of points. It’s phenomenal. They just have so many weapons. You can’t just game plan on trying to stop one guy. They have the quarterback. The tailbacks. The receivers. The tight ends.”
So Roth isn’t expecting to get any type of breather if Jordan-Swilling indeed sits this game out.
“We are preparing as if he is playing, but they are just so deep even if he doesn’t,” Roth said. “That’s how deep they are.”
If Jordan-Swilling, an obvious choice for Catholic League MVP so far this season, doesn’t play, the Crusaders will be without the guy who has accounted for 77 percent of the team’s rushing yards and 61 percent of the team’s offensive touchdowns. “Bruce Almighty” has rushed for 1,553 yards and scored 29 of the Crusaders’ 47 touchdowns.
Bonis is confident with the guys who would fill the giant shoes of his junior running back.
“Next man up,” Bonis said. “That’s always been our motto. We will just have some other guys ready to go.”
Sophomore running back Erick Lassair showed last week he is capable of picking up the slack. The 6-foot, 166-pounder went over the 100-yard mark, darting and weaving his way to a pair of touchdowns just like the guy who wore No. 21 for the Crusaders last year (former all-metro running back Jared West).
Another sophomore, Matthew Alfonso, could also help carry the load.
“Both of those guys have played, and they have played under the lights,” Bonis said. “Both of those guys could start at running back at other 5A schools. We are very confident in them, and we know they are both every capable backs. I know other programs would love to have them.”
The aerial attack can be just as dangerous.
Quarterback Jake Broggi has thrown for almost as many yards (1,473 yards) as Jordan-Swilling has rushed for.
And his options are plentiful with guys like tight end Irv Smith and receivers Jeremy Singleton and Dennis Robertson.
Singleton and Robertson have combined to go for more than 1,000 receiving yards, making you wonder just how Bonis hit the jackpot on offensive players.
“I believe we grow our athletes,” he said. “Obviously they are athletic kids, but we feel we do a good job of growing them and teaching them at a young age. When you have numbers in your program, you have guys that are always challenging other guys. The 1A’s and the 2’s are challenging the 1s to get better, and at the same time they are getting better themselves. I think we do a good job of getting guys ready when it’s their turn.”
With possibly no Jordan-Swilling, it will be their turn Saturday.