As Brother Martin and Shaw prepare to collide for a third time in less than a year, there are few secrets to hide.
There usually aren’t when it comes to the Catholic League.
With so much familiarity between teams, this Friday’s game at Tad Gormley boils down to which team can start a new winning streak and generate momentum heading into the playoffs.
“We’re all trying to go into the playoffs on an upward swing,” Shaw coach Scott Bairnsfather said. “We’re in a league right now where we’re all beating each other. Everyone has a loss or two except Rummel, so it’s been a really tough league. We’re all looking for momentum in the last part of our schedule, and we sure could use it.”
Shaw (4-4, 1-3) and Brother Martin (6-2, 2-2) are coming off lopsided losses. The Eagles fell to Jesuit 42-14 while the Crusaders came up short against Rummel 59-27.
A common theme in both games was success on the ground, but struggles slowing down their opponents’ rushing attack.
Fittingly, this matchup pins Martin junior Bruce Jordan-Swilling and Shaw senior Trey Ragas, who rank first and second among New Orleans’ leading rushers.
Jordan-Swilling, who has 1,663 yards and 29 touchdowns, eclipsed 100 yards last week despite an ankle injury. He’ll be expected to shoulder a full workload this game.
“Everybody’s banged up in the Catholic League. Week 9, it’s nothing that anybody else isn’t going through,” Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis said. “(Bruce) has done a good job taking care of his body between games. He’ll take as many reps as it takes to be successful.”
Martin allowed 393 yards rushing and season-high 59 points to Rummel last week. That left a bad taste in the defense’s mouth.
This week, practices have focused on fundamentals as the Crusaders look for a bounce-back performance.
“One game doesn’t define you,” Bonis said. “It’s how you respond. Our kids are strong, resilient young men. They’re looking forward to getting back on the field.”
Brother Martin’s challenge comes in the form of Ragas, who rushed for 144 yards last week to become Shaw’s all-time leading rusher.
Bairnsfather isn’t convinced Ragas’ yardage will come easy. He remains rather impressed with Brother Martin’s defense.
“They haven’t had the same struggles against any other teams. Rummel gives us all struggles,” he said. “They’ve got good players on defense. They’re well coached. Any yards we get will be well earned.”
Shaw’s bugaboo was slowing down Jesuit’s run game, which amassed 253 yards in the loss.
That road doesn’t get easier with a healthy Jordan-Swilling ready to roll. Like their counterparts, the Eagles are reverting back to basics in hopes of putting forth a more stingy effort.
“We have to do a better job getting off blocks,” Bairnsfather said. “Jesuit did a good job blocking us and staying on us. Brother Martin has a good line like Jesuit, so it’s going to be a challenge to beat their blocks and tackle a great back.”