Shaw ends long Catholic League drought with 27-13 win over Holy Cross
It was the elephant in the room, perhaps the elephant on his back and that of his team.
For Archbishop Shaw coach Tommy Connors, it was the weight of the world on his shoulders and on the shoulders of his players.
The monkey is gone and Connors and his Eagles can stand up straight.
It was a constant reminder.
It gnawed at the Eagles.
It served as motivation.
It is over.
A vastly improved 2021 Shaw squad ended the long drought of winless games against Catholic League competition Friday night, handling Holy Cross 27-13 at Joe Zimmerman Stadium in the District 9-5A opener for both teams.
In the process, Shaw ended a dubious streak of having lost 33 games against Catholic League competition, 30 in district play and three additional defeats, including the playoffs.
Talented wide receiver Mike Williams set the tone for Shaw, returning the game’s opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown and the Eagles had an early lead which they would never relinquish.
Jayce LaCava added a 5-yard touchdown run and Shaw carried a 14-0 lead into halftime.
Holy Cross cut the deficit to 14-7 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Eli LaFrance.
Then, Shaw speedy running back David Kency raced 50 yards for a score to make it 21-7 and LaCava put the game away with a 14-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers (1-1) also scored on a 70-yard punt return for a score by Koby Young in the second half but it was not enough.
It was the Shaw running game which made the difference.
LaCava rushed 24 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns
Kency finished with 13 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback Stephen Banford added ran 10 times for 66 yards.
The last win for the Eagles over a Catholic League opponent was a 42-39 victory over St. Augustine at Tad Gormley Stadium on a sunny afternoon in City Park on Oct. 10, 2015.
Speaking on Ken Trahan’s Original Prep Football Report on NASH ICON 106.1 FM and the Original Network Friday night, Connors assessed the situation bluntly.
“People have been counting us down and out since then,” Connors said. “We’ve been hearing about ever since then (last win). I was proud to be part of the locker room for the last five years. The kids never really let it get to them and kept sawing wood, kept believing that they would get it. We definitely got over that hurdle.”
Connors pointed out why Shaw is now in a position to compete in the Catholic League.
“This is the best running game we’ve had in the last five years,” Connors said. “Those offensive linemen never get any accolades but they’re the biggest part of this thing, for sure. These kids are always going to be special to me. In my first year (2017), they were eighth-graders. They always believed. They stuck to the process, blocked out the noise. They are finally getting to reap some of the benefits of hard work.”
I was fortunate to broadcast the win over St. Aug in 2015 on radio.
Quarterback Matt Keller was tough, throwing for 97 yards and rushing for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Trey Ragas was tremendous.
The eventual University of Louisiana running back rushed 29 times for 228 yards and four touchdowns in a masterful performance.
Former Eagle Scott Bairnsfather was still the head coach while former Eagle Tommy Connors was an assistant.
Both remembered the great days at Shaw, winning a state title and making five other state championship game appearances as both were part of those outstanding seasons.
After wandering in the wilderness while competing against Catholic schools with larger, in some cases much larger enrollment, Shaw is back and ready to compete with the big boys, thanks to a host of big boys up front and a trio of key playmakers.
With the gorilla removed by a surgical performance by his team, Connors and his Eagles are more than ready to become the gorilla to win more games in the Catholic League.
The Eagles (2-1) travel to Metairie to take on rival Archbishop Rummel next Saturday night at Joe Yenni Stadium at 7 p.m. in a game you can listen to on NASH ICON, 106.1 FM in the annual Megaphone game.
“I’m excited about it, honestly,” Connors said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for their program. It’s been a long, good rivalry. I’m excited to be a part of it and hopefully, it’s two good football teams and a great game for everybody to watch.”
Holy Cross (1-1) will host Jesuit (1-1) at Tad Gormley Stadium next Friday night as the oldest rivalry in the area and one of the two oldest in the state is renewed in the Great American Rivalry Series in a game that you can watch at CrescentCitySports.com and on Cox Sports Television.
“Shaw is in a great place,” Connors said. “We’ve got a stadium, we’ve got a beautiful place, everybody’s invested and there’s no reason we can’t stop getting better. Everybody around us wants to win. We continue to have more and more people at all of our games. We’re the West Bank Catholic school and we truly believe in building this into a community place.”
- < PREV Adrianeun Johnson rushes for 4 TDs in Pine win at Northlake Christian
- NEXT > Rummel shows huge improvement in 23-14 win over state champ Calvary
Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…