Mark Bonis and J.T. Curtis have tough tasks this week, preparing their teams for Saturday’s highly anticipated Brother Martin-John Curtis showdown
The tougher task may be leading up to the game.
Both say they are taking a business-as-usual approach this week, treating it like just another game.
Good luck with that coaches.
Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. showdown at Tad Gormley Stadium between the Crusaders and Patriots is anything but just another game.
It’s No. 2 (Crusaders) vs. 3 (Patriots) in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10.
It’s No. 3 (Curtis) vs. No. 5 (Brother Martin) in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 5A poll.
It’s Bruce Jordan-Swilling vs. Devon Benn.
It’s the Welcome to the Catholic League opener for Curtis, which joined District 9-5A this season.
The winner of this one gets a leg up in the district race.
That may not seem to mean much considering that two months from now when the LHSAA Division I playoffs begin, all seven Catholic League teams will be in the postseason.
But as J.T. Curtis is quick to point out, that doesn’t diminish wanting to win the crown in THIS district.
“The district championships aren’t as meaningful anymore because of the power ratings, but in this district it still has prestige to it,” Curtis said. “It’s still an important part of the schools in this district with all the tradition, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”
It’ll be the 608th career game for Curtis, the active national leader in coaching victories with 543 wins.
He doesn’t put this one above any of the other 607 games he’s coached.
“In our history, we have played a lot of big games against a lot of good teams,” Curtis said. “You have to try to guard against having those highs and lows. You try to be consistent with level of preparation, regardless of the opponent. If you play on emotion one week, you’re going to be flat the next. In a league like the Catholic League, you can’t afford to be flat a week.”
Both sport 3-0 records and have been impressive through the first three weeks of the season.
Brother Martin is averaging a whopping 56.7 points per game. Jordan-Swilling, the Crusaders’ junior running back, has a large chunk of that, averaging almost six touchdowns per game.
J.T. Curtis hasn’t seen Jordan-Swilling play in person since the Patriots 40-20 victory last season in the playoffs.
“But I’ve seen him on film, and that’s enough,” he said. “He combines some good things. He is a big back, but he also has the ability to outrun the secondary. When he gets to the secondary, you have to try to find a way to get him on the ground. Every team that he has played them, he has produced, 40-, 50-, 60-yard runs.”
Jordan-Swilling needs just 181 yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark this season.
But despite his numbers, the Crusaders aren’t one dimensional. Quarterback Jake Broggi has thrown for almost 600 yards.
Bonis said the game will be litmus test for his program.
“I’m looking forward to it to see where we are and where we have taken the program,” Bonis said. “I want to see how we compete against one of the best teams in the country.
They are a top 30 program in the country. Even if they aren’t ranked as one right now, I’d put them up against team in the country, and they’d do well. It’s a true measuring stick for where we are, not only as a team this year, but as a program.”
But despite the two coaches trying to downplay how big the game is, Curtis said its stirred a buzz around the city.
“It’s created more fan, parent and alumi excitement, that’s for sure,” he said. “I think it’s across the board, for them as well. That’s a good thing. That’s good for high school football.”