Rivalry defined by streaks

Published 12:01 am Thursday, December 4, 2014

Suspense won’t be lacking in the 2014 MHSAA Class A state championship when Cathedral continues its rivalry with St. Aloysius.

St. Aloysius leads the rivalry 26-25.

The news that Cathedral was playing in the state championship game excited 1993 quarterback Jarrod West, but the reveal of the Green Wave’s opponent nearly left him speechless.

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“Oh man, you’re kidding,” West said. “That was always such a big rivalry.”

Jeffrey Junkin, who was a member of the 1993 team, as well, found the state championship matchup ironic.

“That was definitely the only real rivalry we had,” Junkin said. “Every time we played, there was a lot of chatter back and forth.”

Ken Beesley, who coached Cathedral from 1978-2006, recalled one particular game in the rivalry — a shootout in 1993 — where the defense was practically nonexistent.

“We won that game 50-49,” Beesley said. “Neither team punted, and they scored right at the end. The only time we stopped them was when they went for two at the end of the game.”

Walt Brown, who has called Cathedral games on the radio since 1996, said up until Cathedral won some close games this season — including an overtime victory against Lumberton — that was the craziest game he’d seen.

“That was definitely the most exciting game I had seen up until that point,” Brown said.

Beesley said the rivalry isn’t necessarily known for big fights, but hard-hitting was always a calling card when the two clubs squared off.

The rivalry dates back to 1938 when St. Aloysius blanked Cathedral 40-0 in the first-ever meeting. The Flashes shutout Cathedral in the first four meetings before Cathedral picked up its first win in 1952. The rivalry picked up in 1955 when St. Aloysius defeated Cathedral 51-7, angering Cathedral head coach Don Alonzo to the point of painting 51-7 on the side of the locker room.

“My dad played on that team, and I think ’51-7’ stayed painted on the outside of the locker room for four or five years,” Brown said.

A 32-0 loss to St. Aloysius the following year led to both teams not scheduling each other for the next 14 years.

With Beesley as head coach, Cathedral won 12 straight games against the Flashes from 1985-1995. The teams played twice in 1989. St. Aloysius won 10 of the next 12 games from 1998 until 2009, having the rivalry intensify even more when St. Aloysius beat Cathedral 51-7 in 2001, as Flashes coach Jim Taylor called timeout with five seconds left in the game before adding another score.

Under Ron Rushing, Cathedral has yet to lose to St. Aloysius, winning the previous five matchups against the Flashes. If Rushing wins his sixth straight, Cathedral will win its first state championship in school history.