Another chapter in a storied high school football rivalry will take place this week, when St. Andrew’s Saints will make the short trek to Madison to take on the St. Joseph Bruins.
The Saints come into the game after a tough match up against Class 2A powerhouse Pisgah.
Now in his fourth season, Saints head coach Johnny Nichols is still hoping for his first win against the Bruins, where he previously served as an assistant coach.
“It’s been a pretty good rival for the two schools, because they’re located such a close distance to each other and all the kids know each other,” Nichols said. “They look forward to the game and are excited to play.”
The contest is a non-division game, meaning that only bragging rights are on the line.
In recent years, St. Joe has had more to brag about, winning 11 of the last 16 match ups, including in 2019, when the Bruins thumped their crosstown rivals 28-7.
With the Saints returning nine seniors, including an experienced quarterback and running back, the outcome this year could be different.
The Saints are led by senior quarterback Trey Hebert. Last year, Hebert took over under center halfway through the season, after then senior quarterback Aaron Cooper went down with an injury.
Hebert completed 48 passes for 485 yards and five touchdowns and led the team in passing yards. Meanwhile, as kicker, he made three of six field goals and 14 extra points on 16 attempts.
“He did well. He was put in a tough situation to have to step in for a senior. He grew each game,” Nichols said.
Nichols said Hebert has worked hard in the off season, knowing he was the starter, and has led the team by example.
Hebert will be helped out by junior running back Jamon Harkless. Last year, Harkless rushed for 444 yards and two touchdowns on 105 carries, Maxpreps.com stats show. He also caught 10 receptions for 89 yards and another touchdown.
But the then-sophomore really stood out on defense, notching 17 tackles, 67 assists and five tackles for a loss.
“He’s been playing since he was a ninth-grader,” Nichols said, referring to Harkless. “The biggest thing he brings to us is his experience. He will get a lot more carries this year.”
The Saints are coming off of a 2-9 season. Despite the disappointing record, St. Andrew’s was only one win shy of making it into the Class 3A playoffs.
St. Joe is led by head coach John Bond. He was named coach in 2018. Last year, the Bruins posted a 3-8 record in Class 2A.
Bond could not be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts to reach him.
The St. Andrew’s Saints will travel to Madison on Friday, September 11, to take on the St. Joe Bruins. The game begins at 7 p.m.
Saints’ Keys to Victory
Get Jamon the ball: Whether he’s running or receiving, Jamon can make plays. Get him the ball as often as possible.
Stop the run: St. Joe rushed for 325 yards last year in their route of the Saints. The Bruins will probably stick with that strategy this year.
At a Glance
Class/Division: Class 3A, Region 6 (MHSAA)
Head Coach: Johnny Nichols
Assistant Coaches: Dan Roach, Jordan Nichols, Daryl Owens, William Boyles
2019 record: 2-9