- Feature Story
- Ron Brocato
- October 07, 2013 - 6:12am
By the time the Catholic League moved into its fourth decade (1985-94), the football powers had shifted from the district’s three charter members – Holy Cross, Jesuit and De La Salle – to three of the four newer schools.
Having outlived its growing pains, Archbishop Shaw was continuing its period of domination that began in 1976 under head coach Joe Zimmerman. In 1983, “Coach Z” left Shaw for what he thought were more fertile grounds at De La Salle. He couldn’t have been more wrong. While his Cavaliers finished no higher than fourth place over his eight-year stay, Hank Tierney was turning Shaw into a dynasty on the Westbank.
From 1985 through 1997, Tierney led the Eagles to 105 victories against just 21 losses. They won seven district championships, 59 of 64 league games and did not lose a Catholic League game between 1989 and 1992. His 1987 squad won the school’s only state championship to date, a 14-6 triumph over Covington.
The Westbank was breeding grounds for the area’s best young football talent. Public schools like John Ehret and West Jefferson in the parish, and Algiers’ Karr and O. Perry Walker were loaded with outstanding players. But Shaw maintained itself as king of the Westbank.
If the Eagles had any nemesis, it was St. Augustine. The Purple Knights, mentored by Tony Biagas for nine years during that decade, won 85 of 114 games, two league titles, and made the state playoffs five times. In Shaw’s championship year of 1987, the only blemish on the Eagles’ record was a 34-0 loss to Biagas’ Knights.
Brother Martin remained competitive as the league’s third best team under legendary head coach Bob Conlin. The Crusaders went 84-41 overall and 42-22 in the Catholic League, but Conlin experienced just his second losing season in 1991 when the ‘Saders went 5-6. They did, however, share league championships in 1985 and 1992.
Conlin again took a back seat to Shaw in 1989, but ended a championship game hiatus of 18 years by outlasting the Eagles during a state playoff trek that took the Crusaders to the Superdome, where they fell to a larger (and older) Ouachita squad, 35-7. Martin finished with an 11-4 record.
After leading Jesuit to the state finals in 1978, Billy Murphy left the school and coaching following the 1982 season. Following him were Frank Monica, Danny Abramowitz and Mark Songy. And while the trio all recorded winning records at Carrollton and Banks, Monica was the only one to lead Jesuit to a district title in 1985.
Times were hard for Holy Cross. Following coach Henry Rando’s resignation after winning a league championship in 1983, the Tigers’ administration waded through five head coaches and six losing seasons.
The only successor to do well, was Vic Eumont, an All-State guard on the schools’ 1963 state championship team. After leading the Tigers to a 7-3 record in 1986, Eumont left his alma mater for a college job. The three head coaches to follow – Tom Gruber, Marc Robert and Richard Walker – posted losing records.
What was worse for long-suffering Tiger followers was the fact the Navy and Old Gold lost to archrival Jesuit every year from 1987-1994. That streak would end a year later when coach George Scheaffer’s team beat the Jays, 18-11 in overtime.
As much as Shaw was enjoying its success on the football field, its sister school, Rummel, slipped into a backward slide following the retirement of coach Don Perret and his successor, Easton Roth, leaving the Metairie school to become athletic director at Jesuit in 1982.
Under George Ryan (1983-89), Joe Burckel (1990) and Marc Martin (1991-94), the Raiders posted a 10-year record of 50-50 and failed to make the playoffs.
But better days would lie ahead. In 1995, Roth’s son, Jay, who quarterbacked the Raiders to a 10-1 record and their first league championship in six years, would become the school’s seventh head coach.
As we will learn in the decade of 1995-2004, Rummel would finally stand up to Shaw. The battles between Roth and Tierney for the prized “Megaphone” would begin another chapter in the state’s premier football league.
Catholic League Team of the Decade
Wide receiver -- Joey Riley, Shaw.
Tight End – Beau Harvey, Holy Cross.
Off. Linemen – Jackie Rowan, St. Augustine; Jarvis Reado, Shaw, Toney Filostrat, Brother Martin; Jared Austin, Shaw; Greg DeBose, St. Augustine.
Quarterbacks – Chad LaRose, Brother Martin; Mickey Joseph, Shaw.
Running backs – Leroy Hoard, St. Augustine, Tyrone Hughes, St. Augustine; Troy Oddo, Brother Martin.
Placekicker – Malter Scobel, Shaw.
Def. Line – Warde Manuel, Brother Martin; Rod West, Brother Martin; Nick Walker, Shaw; Billy Beron, Rummel.
Linebackers – Marchant Kenney, Jesuit; Pat Stant, Brother Martin; Dal Chappell, Shaw.
Def. Backs – Raion Hill, Brother Martin; Robby Green, Shaw; Eugene Ridgley, Shaw; Jabbar Juluke, St. Augustine.
Punter – Darrin Dares, Rummel.