It has been 13 years since John Curtis and Shaw last squared off.
The last meeting — in 2002 — was Scott Bairnsfather’s first season as Shaw’s coach.
Curtis claimed a 38-7 victory against Shaw that year and owns an 8-1 advantage in the all-time series.
With both teams looking to rebound from losses in Week 9, Saturday’s regular-season finale at 2 p.m. at Hoss Memtsas should provide the Patriots (6-2, 3-2) and Eagles (4-5, 1-4) one last chance to build momentum before the Division I state playoffs get underway next week.
“Our motivation is to play our hardest, give everything we’ve got, and if we do that, we can pull out a win,” Shaw senior center Justin Adams said. “That would boost the morale of our team again. A win would give us a big momentum boost into the playoffs.”
“We’re taking it game-by-game, week-by-week,” countered Curtis senior linebacker Nate Evans. “We’re not overlooking our opponent this week, but it would be awesome to go into the playoffs fresh off a win.”
Before joining New Orleans’ storied Catholic League, Curtis had won 58 of its past 59 district games and earned district titles the past 39 of 40 years.
Last week’s loss to Rummel snapped that streak, but it’s already in the rearview mirror. That’s the mentality the Patriots have adopted as they turn the page on Week 9 and focus solely on Week 10 and Shaw.
“A wise coach told me a long time ago you have to be able to put exhilarating wins and devastating defeats behind you,” Patriots coach J.T. Curtis said. “That’s how we operate.”
Despite a decade-plus gap between the teams’ last meeting, Shaw’s and Curtis’ football identities remain very much intact.
Curtis is notorious for its split-back veer, which has helped the Patriots capture 26 state championships.
Teams up and down the Catholic League boast potent rushing attacks, but Curtis’ is a whole other beast.
“It’s different for us because we haven’t seen it much over the last few years,” Bairnsfather said. “It’ll be an adjustment period in the beginning of the game to see the power and speed of it, and how hard and quick they come off the ball. We have to handle the dive, quarterback and pitch, and the great thing about it is if one isn’t working, they can go to the next.”
Like Curtis, Shaw has always been a team founded on a solid running game. This year is no exception.
Senior tailback Trey Ragas continues to add to his record-setting yardage total, despite suffering a shoulder injury in the waning minutes last Friday against Brother Martin. Ragas exited the game late but returned to practice this week with the expectation of starting.
“I appreciate it,” Adams said of Ragas. “He’s a very tough athlete. He lays everything out on the line for us. He gives us everything he’s got. He won’t go down. He’s one of the strongest athletes I’ve ever met.”