FOUR GAMES SET, INCLUDE SEVEN CATHOLIC FOES:
A wonderful tradition is returning to the prep football scene in 2012.
The Archbishop Hannan Football Classic returns for the first time since 2004 this season with eight prominent area schools and football programs participating.
Brother Martin, De La Salle, John Ehret, Holy Cross, Jesuit, Rummel, Shaw and St. Augustine are this year's participants.
The event is named after Philip Hannan, the legendary former Archbishop of New Orleans.
Sponsored by the area Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the concept initiated with area director Dr. Benny Jones, an ardent and enthusiastic supporter of prep sports in the greater New Orleans area and an area football official and reporter for Ken Trahan's Original Prep Football Report Friday nights during the prep football season on WGSO, 990 AM, seven other radio stations around Louisiana and at www.sportsnola.com.
The event originated in 2000 when Jones was approached by a pair of men interested in the idea.
"It was a matter of Rich Eason (Adams and Reese Law Firm) and J.T. Hannan (nephew of the late Archbishop Philip Hannan) approaching me," said Jones. "We went to Archbishop Hannan and he was thrilled and excited about doing it. The whole idea took off from there. All of the teams and fans were excited. It was just a natural,"
For an event bearing Hannan's name, Jones felt it was important to incorporate top area Catholic high schools.
"We feel like highlighting the Catholic tradition and the great players and histories behind the programs over the years was the way to go," said Jones. "We will honor former players from the schools during the games and draw upon the alumni for support."
Archbishop Hannan passed away on September 29, 2011 at the age of 98. He served as the Eleventh Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans from September 29, 1965 to December 6, 1988. He remained in the community following his retirement and was universally respected and generally admired by people of all faith, honored in many fashions.
Archbishop Hannan High School, founded in 1987 in Meraux, was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It reopened on the northshore after the storm and is now located in Covington.
This year's event will be spread out over two weekends, rather than one weekend, as a result of schools already being contracted to play each other on certain dates in certain stadiums.
With a recent vote by state principals to allow schools to "play up" one classification by 2013, there is a distinct possibility that all Catholic schools currently involved in the Hannan Football Classic could end up in the same league, with the exception of De La Salle. Jones has kept alive the tradition of including a non-Catholic area school in the event.
"We have always had one area public school involved and we are thrilled to have a program the caliber of John Ehret involved this year," Jones said.
The event is possible, largely thanks to the athletic directors of the respective schools getting on board.
"Egos were put aside," said Jones. "Shaw was willing to move its game from the West Bank to Tad Gormley. Jesuit was willing to accept its game being a Friday afternoon contest. All eight athletic directors were extremely cooperative and we are very grateful for their support."
With the event returning, Jones already has big plans for the future, via expansion.
"At some point, we would like to add other area Catholic schools to the event," Jones said. Archbishop Hannan, Pope John Paul, St. Charles Catholic and St. Paul are other programs that could be involved in the future. Catholic schools from other parts of the country, most notably, in the Washington D.C. area, have expressed interest in getting involved because Archbishop Hannan previously served as the archbishop of Washington D.C. and is a native of the nation's capitol.
"The primary emphasis is to honor the legacy of Archbishop Hannan and his tremendous service to New Orleans and to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ over many decades," Jones said. "It is not about raising money. If we ever get to the point of making a profit, we will look at benefiting FCA and the schools participating."
Any event bearing the name of a great man who did great service to our community is a great thing and worthy of community support. For more information, contact Jones at (504) 582-1972 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is safe to say that Jones will not be officiating any of the Hannan Classic games. "I think I'll avoid that," laughed Jones. "I will not be carrying or throwing any flags in these games."
Archbishop Hannan Football Classic Schedule:
- Rummel vs. St. Augustine--Sat., Sept. 15--7 p.m. @ Joe Yenni Stadium
- Brother Martin vs. John Ehret--Thurs., Sept. 20--7 p.m. @ Tad Gormley
- Jesuit vs. De La Salle--Friday, Sept. 21--3:30 p.m. @ Pan American
- Shaw vs. Holy Cross--Friday, Sept. 21--7 p.m. @ Tad Gormley