None of the Country Day or Newman players were even born the last time the Cajuns and Greenies met on the football field.
A guy named Peyton Manning was in his senior year for the Greenies when the two schools last played in 1993.
For the first time in 22 years, the two teams will meet again when Country Day travels uptown Friday night to play Newman in a District 9-2A game.
Despite not playing in over two decades, the schools are still somewhat rivals from playing each other in other sports.
And that may explain why Greenies coach Nelson Stewart is expecting a crowd of about 2,000 at Michael Lupin Field for the Newman-Country Day football reunion.
“A lot of these kids grew up together and play together,” said Stewart, a junior defensive tackle on Newman’s ’93 team. “It’s a healthy competition when you know the guys lining up across from you. There’s just a lot of respect on both sides.”
Both teams enter with lofty rankings in The New Orleans Advocate Small School Super 10.
Country Day (7-0, 2-0) is ranked No. 4 and off to its best start since 2004.
Newman (4-2,0-2) meanwhile, is ranked No. 6 and looking for its first district win after back-to-back losses to top-ranked Riverside and No. 2 St. Charles.
“It’s already a rivalry in the sense that these kids all know each other, but for us it’s another football game,” first-year Country Day coach Joe Chango said. “We try not to get wrapped up in emotions. Rivalries are for the fans, not the players. We are trying to be level-headed and just get better every day. We are excited about a chance to play better competition.”
The game is the first of a rough three-game stretch for Country Day, which moved up from 1A to 2A this season. The Cajuns play Riverside and St. Charles next.
“This is a stretch we looked forward to at the beginning of the season,” Chango said. “When there was a question about whether or not we could compete in 2A, we knew there were a couple opportunities along the way like the games against Episcopal and West St. John. But we really knew competing in 2A was going to be about Weeks 8, 9 and 10. So we are going to play it out and see.”
Country Day has been one of the state’s most dominant teams this season, averaging a whopping a 55.9 points per game while giving up just 8.6 points per game. In fact, they are almost averaging more points than the total points (60) they have allowed all season.
The Cajuns’ three-headed monster (running back Jase Griffin, quarterback Christian Kerut and receiver Trey Harrel) lead the offense.
“They are explosive,” Stewart said. “Jase and Trey are both threats to go the distance at any moment. They have dynamic playmakers on both sides of the football. You can’t focus on one thing because they run and throw the ball well. You are impressed with everything you see with them.”
Griffin has rushed for 1,092 yards and scored 25 touchdowns, second in the area behind only Brother Martin’s Bruce Jordan-Swilling (29 TDs).
“Jase is cranking out those numbers on offense while also doing a phenomenal job on defense at cornerback,” Chango said. “He has taken the team on his back to lead us where we are. Our success is in large part due to what he’s done. He’s a hard-nosed player who has been a workhorse for us.”
Newman counters with quarterback Miles Lapeyre and receiver Elbert Thomas.
Lapeyre has thrown for 1,495 yards and 17 touchdowns and Thomas has an area-best 636 receiving yards to go with his nine touchdowns.
Stewart is hoping the losses the past two weeks will have his team ready.
“When we played St. Charles and Riverside, we came out healthy and we came out a better football team,” Stewart said. “I think when you compete at that level, you find out your deficiencies. We competed in spots, it made us a better football team and prepared us for what will be another great challenge.”