October 4th, 2013

A St. X alum take on the rivalry

Matt Young 

Staff Writer

A St. X alum take on the rivalry
St. Xavier plays its home game at Brother Thomas More Stadium / photo from saintx.com

The first week in October usually has many football fans thinking about their favorite college team starting conference play or their favorite NFL team getting off to a good start. But in Louisville, many people turn attention to a high school football rivalry for the week. 

The annual battle between 6-A football powerhouses St. Xavier and Trinity is a rivalry that many football junkies outside of the city of Louisville might not understand. 

Why would almost 40,000 fans meet up for a HIGH SCHOOL football rivalry? 

For those questioning people, the rivalry is little more than just another football game. For many of us who have been a part of these games, a witness to these games or part of these high school communities, this game is the culmination of what is pure about the game of football. 

High school kids laying all their blood, sweat and tears on the line for their alma mater. For me and many others, I believe this rivalry can be described in three words: unique, unpredictable and the ultimate.

UNIQUE: This rivalry is truly unique in every form of the word. The rivalry is a “Louisville thing.” We have all heard the State Farm radio commercial discussing what a true Kentuckian might say when they are asked where they are from. Many Kentuckians will come out and say I am from a particular county, while people from other states will come out with their city.

In the Louisville Catholic community, many kids will say I am from a particular Catholic grade school when asked where they are from, or they will come out and say I am from either St. X or Trinity. 

Both schools have assumed a position in our community as places we are proud to be “from” or attended for high school. 

While many other people may come out and answer a specific college when asked where they went to school, many former students of these schools will come out and say proudly that they attended either St. X or Trinity.

Unique can also describe the feelings between fans of this rivalry. Other large local rivalries like the University of Louisville vs. the University of Kentucky can be described as having animosity year around between the fans of each of the schools. 

Many of the players of both teams in this rivalry hang out on the weekend and are friends from grade school days. Fans and alumni of both school also grew up together and are often seen tailgating together in the green lot. 

The “so-called” hatred between the teams may be evident from the opening kickoff to the final second of the fourth quarter, but after the last play, the teams, fans and school go back to being part of a bigger Catholic community. 

This is most evident right before opening kickoff when fans from both schools join in prayer to start off the game. Where have you seen another rivalry where fans of both teams stand together and pray before every meeting? There are not many.  

ULTIMATE: This rivalry to me is the “ultimate” rivalry in high school athletics. The game seems to always draw more than 35,000 fans. Many smaller NCAA Football Championship Division schools do not get that many for a rivalry game. The winner of this game is usually the assumed the favorite to win the 6-A state football title. 

NFL Films was in Louisville in 2008 to shoot a documentary on the game that aired on CBS. Think of all the great players over the years that came from these schools that added to the immense talent seen yearly in this rivalry. 

In recent years James Quick, Jason Hatcher, Travis Wright, Ryan White, Jordan Whiting, Will Stein, Brian Brohm and many others have been great in the Shamrock uniform. 

On the St. X side there were players such as Vic Anderson, Deuce Finch, Joe Tronzo, Matt Smith and many more. 

The talent is there this year as well. Trinity has playmakers such as Reggie Bonnafon, Cody Swabek and Donald Brooks who fuel a high-powered offense. St. X has great talent in the backfield with Austin Davis and Charles Walker, and the Tigers are strong upfront on both lines.

UUNPREDICTABLE: While the overall series record is close, Trinity has owned the rivalry over the past few years. But even with an overwhelming favorite in Trinity last year in the playoffs, the Tigers raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Trinity had to come up with a stout defensive performance in the second half to come out with a 15-14 win. 

We have all heard it before. The cliché of anything can happen in a rivalry game. But in this rivalry, I have witnessed that coming true. I remember how unpredictable the 2007 6-A title was for both teams. 

Earlier that season, St. X posted an impressive 24-15 win over Trinity in the annual rivalry game in October. The game really was not even that close because Trinity scored a touchdown with less than a minute to play.

The Tigers' defense put on a dominating performance by chasing Shamrock quarterback Will Stein out of the pocket all night. The Tigers set the tone early when game MVP Deuce Finch broke the second Tiger play from scrimmage for a touchdown. 

That year it seemed the Tigers had the advantage in talent, and the team would rise to No. 15 in USA Today national rankings. However, come the state championship game, the Shamrocks flipped the script and beat the Tigers 34-28 in overtime in one of the biggest upsets in recent rivalry history.

2007 and 2012 remind fans of both sides that when these two teams get together anything can happen in the most unique, ultimate and unpredictable high school rivalry in the country.

Matt Young is a 2008 graduate of St. Xavier High School.    


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