November 4th, 2011
Elementary Excellence: Toy Bowl Weekend
St. Edward class attempting to win 34th straight game
The following feature is a part of a weekly series called "Elementary Excellence" - a set of profiles that will spotlight Louisville area Catholic elementary schools and its athletic programs, teams, traditions and excellence in all aspects of sports. Do you want your school to be featured? Send us your recommendation to email@example.com.
To say the boys in the current 8th grade class at St. Edward Grade School aren't used to losing would be an extreme understatement.
They've won multiple city championships during their time together on the basketball court, were a victory away from advancing to the national tournament in the Cal Ripken baseball division, and when they take the field on Sunday for their 7th & 8th grade Class A Toy Bowl showdown with St. Stephen Martyr, this current crop of Braves will attempt to do something that no other Catholic School Athletic Association (CSAA) football team has ever done before.
Since beginning elementary football in 5th grade, the 2011 St. Edward 8th graders have won three straight Toy Bowls and racked up 33 straight victories. With one final "W" on Sunday, the group would finish its grade school career a perfect 34-0 having never lost a single game.
“They don’t know how to lose. And they work hard at it,” said St. Edward 7th & 8th grade coach Bill Young. “Everything they’ve done, they’ve done together."
Young, who has coached grade school football for 12 years (half of those at St. Edward), says he's never seen a group like this before and attests their success to having great discipline - a virtue that Young says he learned from his Dad, a former teacher at St. Xavier High School, and preaches daily in an effort to enhance his players' character.
“Being 33-0 is awesome, but seeing us develop an 8th grade boy into a high school man is what it’s all about,” said Young. “We want them to be good Christians.”
The Braves also prepare with a vengeance. When Young says he wants to prepare his players for high school, that goes for the speed and intensity of St. Edward practices as well.
"I've had high school players who played here come back and tell me that St. Edward practices are tougher than Trinity or St. X practices," said Young.
But the approach has seemed to work. St. Edward, like other local Catholic elementary schools, has an impressive alumni database of football players who have gone on to play in high school, including Adam Reynolds and Patrick LaFollette who are current starters for the nation's No. 1 ranked Trinity High School.
Several standout players from last year's St. Edward 7th/8th grade Toy Bowl championship team are current freshmen at local Catholic high schools; Jack Deddins (St. X), JT Benningfield (Trinity), Tony Meyer (Trinity) and Justin Crabtree (Trinity) are all on rosters for the Tigers or Shamrocks.
The Braves have also been winners off the field. Last year, when St. Stephen Martyr student and football player Joey Sullivan was diagnosed with cancer, Young asked his players to collect spare change in parents' cars, around the house and underneath couch cushions. He didn't want them to solicit others for donations, but challenged his team to raise $500 to go toward Sullivan's medical expenses.
They scrounged up $3,500.
“Our relationship with the St. Stephen community is not just a rivalry on the football field,” says Young. "We always want to help others when we can."
As for the task of capping a four-year run with one last Toy Bowl title, Young says this year's team has come together at the right time.
“You always hear the cliché that you never want to peak too soon,” said Young. “And we’re seeing them peak now when you want to see them peak, at the right moment. They’re flat out not making mistakes. It’s in their eyes and they want that 4th Toy Bowl.”
St. Edward, which defeated St. Bernard 58-0 in the semifinals last week to advance to Sunday's final at Trinity High School's Marshall Stadium, has only had two close games while going 8-0 so far this season. One was the squad's first game of the year: a 14-6 win over Holy Spirit, the team the Braves defeated for its 2010 Class A Toy Bowl championship.
The other was a 28-18 victory over St. Stephen, the team that St. Edward helped support last year with a humbling gesture, and the team the Braves will meet on Sunday with history on the line.
St. Edward and St. Stephen Martyr, along with 10 other hopeful teams, will square off on Saturday and Sunday in Toy Bowl action in Louisville. LouisvilleCatholicSports.com will be at each game and will bring you full coverage including game recaps, photos and video highlights. That coverage is sponsored by Publishers Press.
The weekend's full Toy Bowl (5th/6th AND 7th/8th) schedule is listed below:
2011 5th & 6th Grade Toy Bowl Schedule; all games at St. Xavier High School (Gates open at 10am)
Class A Toy Bowl: St. Edward (8-0) vs. St. Bernard (7-1) @ 11am
- Last year’s game: St. Mary def. St. Edward 30-0
Class AA Toy Bowl: St. Patrick (7-0) vs. St. Albert (6-1) @ 12:30pm
- Last year’s game: St. Agnes-St. Francis def. Notre Dame Academy 8-0
Class AAA Toy Bowl: Holy Trinity (6-0) vs. St. Gabriel (5-2) @ 2pm
- Last year’s game: St. Gabriel def. St. Patrick 50-49 (7 OT)
7th & 8th Grade Toy Bowl Schedule; all games at Trinity High School (Gates open at Noon)
Class A Toy Bowl: St. Stephen Martyr (6-2) vs. St. Edward (8-0) @ 1pm
- Last year’s game: St. Edward def. Holy Spirit 22-16
Class AA Toy Bowl: Notre Dame Academy-St. Paul (8-0) vs. St. Patrick (7-1) @ 2:30pm
- Last year’s game: St. Agnes-St. Francis def. St. Albert 16-8
Class AAA Toy Bowl: St. Gabriel (7-0) vs. Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Leonard-SHMS (6-1) @ 4pm
- Last year’s game: St. Gabriel def. St. Margaret Mary 22-6