The nondistrict rivalry between Catholic High and Parkview Baptist is not new. But there plenty of nuances to look at when the teams meet to open the season Thursday night.
“The biggest key for us may be how well we can make adjustments as coaches,” Catholic coach Gabe Fertitta said. “Obviously, with a new coach and coaching staff, Parkview is doing a lot of things differently. So far in the scrimmage and jamboree they have shown a great deal of improvement. But they have also been very vanilla and haven’t shown a whole lot (scheme-wise). We expect to see more than that, but we aren’t sure what they will do. So we will have to be able to make adjustments.”
The Class 5A Bears host the 3A Eagles at Memorial Stadium. It is one of three Thursday games on the schedule. Thrive Academy of Class 1A hosts Varnado at Olympia Stadium in its LHSAA debut. St. John hosts Hanson Memorial at Plaquemine High’s Canova Stadium.
All games start at 7 p.m.
Though some of the games between Catholic and Parkview will be the typical mind/strategy games, first-year Parkview coach Stefan LeFors is locked on some specifics.
“The jamboree last week was good for us. We showed improvement and experienced a degree of success, which helps with our confidence,” LeFors said. “We are still learning. Going against Catholic is going to be a challenge in many ways. When you look at them, there are not weaknesses you openly see. They’re well coached, they have size and athleticism. We will need to play as close to perfect as we can.”
Each team has a new starter at quarterback, though both players had spot starts because of injuries, etc. Catholic’s Jackson Thomas finished 7 of 11 in last week’s jamboree win over Walker. Fertitta said three of Thomas' incompletions were dropped by receivers and that the fourth was batted down by the Walker defense.
Roman Mula, Parkview's starter, is sidelined by illness again this week. The Eagles did notch a 21-0 win over St. Michael in jamboree action last week without Mula. Kade Pearl gets the QB start for PBS this week.
Catholic is again strong in the backfield with several running backs.
“We are blessed in that area (running back) and the thing is, each one of those guys has a different skill set to bring the table,” Fertitta said.
But as notable as the skill players are, both coaches note the importance of offensive/defensive line play — something each school has traditionally stressed.
“Their guys are big up front and their nose guard, in particular, is very active,” LeFors said. “We have to be able to hold our own and make plays. Playing behind the chains will not be a good situation for us.”
Nose guard/offensive lineman Connor Finucane helps lead the Catholic line.
Ole Miss commitment DeSanto Rollins leads the Parkview defensive line and also plays tight end.
The game will be the first at Memorial for LeFors, a former Christian Life and Louisville quarterback, who recalls watching a Catholic team led by running back Travis Minor, who went on to Florida State and the NFL.