The Brother Martin State Championship football game comes 51 years and a day later.
Brother Martin State Championship
There’s lots of hype out there on the current Crusader football team, in the run-up to tonight’s championship game in Da Dome. While the team played in the 1989 state championship, they lost that year. So, the one and only football state championship in the school’s history was 51 years and one day ago. Brother Martin defeated neighborhood rival St. Augustine, 23-0, on 10-December-1971. The teams met at Tad Gormley Stadium that evening. Here’s Brother Neal’s summary of the game:
25,000 filled the horseshoe in City Park for the rematch with the Big Purple. The game wasn’t as close as the regular season finale. Senior end Steve Mallerich set the tone on the first series by sacking QB Keith Pete. Later in the period, Farnet picked off a Pete aerial to set up a [Steve] Treuting TD plunge for a 7-0 lead. [Darryl] Brue kicked a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the half. The second half belonged to the Crimson and Gold as well.
Blindsided by [Ken] Bordelon as he threw, Pete saw another pass picked off, this time by Brue. Seven plays later Treuting scored again for a 17-0 lead. Junior Marc Robert recovered a fumble at the Knight 11 which set up a [Joe] Mattingly four-yard run to complete the eighth shutout of the season, 23-0.
While most of the champion starters graduated in 1972, Juniors Joe Mattingly, Darryl Brue, and Marc Robert returned, leading the 1972 team to a Catholic League district championship.
Head Coach Bobby Conlin, his brother Dan, and Emile “Chubby” Marks shepherded the team through the regular season and playoffs. The offense ran a Bama-style wishbone, and Coach Marks’ defense was simply a brick wall. If you’re ever wondering why the school’s gym is named after the coach who won the school’s only football state championship, it’s because he didn’t start out as the football coach. When Cor Jesu started its football program in 1965, Principal Brother Roland, SC, hired Andy Bourgeois (SA 1956) as the head coach. Bourgeois played on the LSU team that won the national championship in 1958. He was one of the “Chinese Bandits,” immortalized by the Golden Band from Tiger Land. Brother Roland named Bobby Conlin as the Kingsmen’s first basketball coach that year.
When Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius merged in the fall of 1969, Bourgeois moved on. Bobby Conlin moved from head basketball coach and assistant football coach to head football coach. Andy Russo, basketball coach at St. Aloysius, moved to Elysian Fields.
Fall of 1971 was the days of the Naval Junior Officer’s Training Corps (NJROTC) band. While Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius both had classic, corps-style uniforms for their respective bands, Brother Mark, SC, opted for the Navy blues for BMHS. NJROTC was a required class for 10-12 grades. So, the band upperclassmen all had the uniform already. It was easy to outfit the freshmen. At halftime for the state game in 1971, Crusader Band took the field in the double-breasted blue coats, trousers, and white combination caps of NJROTC cadets. While the band had a crisp, disciplined presence, they were stiff compared to the high-stepping Purple Knights of the Marching 100.
Then the drum major blew the whistle to start the Crusader Band program. The band opened with a stutter-step march, the kind of thing you’d expect from the Marching 100 or the Human Jukebox. In Navy uniforms. Even eighth-grade me, sitting up there with my gold BMHS sweatshirt and spirit ribbons, was stunned. Now, the band were good musicians, but this was so totally different. Brother Virgil, SC, had us all talking more about the band than the team for a while. The reception from the Purple Knights was mixed. They were both laughing and flattered, knowing that, even though they lost the game, they won halftime.