Temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees before kickoff Thursday night at Memorial Stadium, and it was still 90 by halftime. The only thing hotter was the Catholic High offense.
The third-ranked Bears of Class 5A scored seemingly at will to build a 55-point halftime lead over 3A Parkview Baptist. From there, Catholic coasted to a 62-7 victory over PBS in the nondistrict season opener.
It was the fourth straight win in the nine-year-old series for the Bears.
“We had a couple of hiccups we had to tighten up,” Catholic coach Gabe Fertitta said. “Once we regrouped and tightened up, the guys executed really well. We made very few mistakes and finished the game the way I expected, which is to finish out doing it was class.
“I have been on the other end of these games. You never want that, but they’re a young team. Stefan (LeFors, PBS' first-year coach) is a great guy. That’s a program with a lot of history, and they’ll be better.”
But on this night, there was no coming back against the Bears. Catholic ran for 258 yards, with Josh Parker leading the way. Parker ran for 102 yards on eight carries and scored one TD on a 22-yard run. Jackson Thomas completed 9 of 14 passes for 132 yards and two TDs. The senior quarterback also scored on a 5-yard run.
“We’ve been working for this all summer,” Parker said. “We knew we had all the pieces, but we didn’t know how to fit it all in. We figured it out."
Center Brian Hibbard added: “Watching (the running backs) hit the holes was a great. We opened holes and they did the rest.”
PBS quarterback Kade Pearl completed 13 of 25 passes for 102 yards, including a 19-yard TD pass to Christian Williams in the fourth quarter. The sophomore was intercepted twice in his first varsity start. Catholic returned one of those interceptions for a TD.
“I don’t know how much further backwards we can go,” LeFors said of his first PBS game. “Give them (Catholic) all the credit … they’re a great team. But they did not make up silly mistakes, like not lining up straight. We have to swallow it, learn from it and move on.”
After punting on a possession that opened the game, the Bears (1-0) scored on five of their next six possessions to build an a huge 34-0 lead in an eight-minute span.
LC Benjamin opened the scoring with s 13-yard touchdown with 7:51 to go in the first quarter. Catholic started its next four possessions in Parkview territory and cashed in. George Hart III had scoring runs of 8 and 2 yards as the Bears built a 27-0 halftime lead. A 28-yard interception return for a score by Michael Cerniauskas provided the other first-quarter points.
It was hard to imagine things going any better for Catholic. But they did, as the Bears added 31 second-quarter points.
The Eagles (0-1) did not get a first down until the final three minutes of the first half. An interception return by Connor Stewart and a fumble recovery by Christian Mannino also set up first-half TDs for the Bears.