Five decades ago, Jesuit completed the 1962 regular season undefeated under its late coach Ken Tarzetti.
The Blue Jays had to endure 49 years without a repeat until its 10-0 showing in 2011. But now, many of those same players are back, seeking an encore in 2012 under coach Wayde Keiser.
Unblemished through seven games, the Jays meet the 7-0 Rummel Raiders Saturday night at Joe Yenni at 7 o'clock with each seeking a leg up and a one-game lead in the District 9-5A race. Jesuit will conclude regular-season play against a dangerous West Jefferson team while Rummel finishes against Brother Martin.
The game will have a bearing on the state's polls and power ratings. Rummel owns the state's No. 2 power ranking behind defending champion West Monroe. Jesuit is rated No. 3.
Jesuit has downed the Raiders en route to one outright and one shared (with St. Augustine) district title the past two seasons by scores of 18-7 in 2010 and 42-21 last season after Rummel had claimed the previous six matchups.
"For a game like this, our job is to prepare the team physically and mentally as well as we can," said Keiser, in his sixth season at Jesuit. "As for emotions, well, I just don't know. I haven't been able to figure those out in 30 years of coaching. But I don't think we're that big of a rah-rah team. We, as coaches, need to cover everything that needs to be covered. All those other things will take care of themselves."
Tanner Lee, the Blue Jays' 6-foot-4, 190-pound quarterback, spearheads the offense. He has completed 73 of 119 pass attempts (61.3 percent) for 1,610 yard and 21 touchdowns without an interception.
His receivers have attained startling stats. Senior Mitch Alexander (5-8, 150) has 17 receptions for 523 yards and 7 TDs, a lofty average of 30.8 yards per reception. His senior sidekick Matt Hackney (6-0, 175) is averaging 21.3 yards per reception with 23 catches for 490 yards and 7 touchdowns.
"If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if we would be 7-0, I probably would have said that I didn't think so because of our (tough) schedule," said Keiser. "But I am not surprised to be here. I thought we were capable of this.
Jesuit & Rummel
Year RS / OV
2007 7-3 / 7-4
2008 5-4 / 5-5
2009 6-4 / 7-5
2010 8-2 / 10-3
2011 10-0 / 12-1
Year RS / OV
2007 8-2 / 10-3
2008 8-1 / 9-2
2009 10-0 / 14-1
2010 4-6 / 4-6
2011 8-1 / 10-2
RS = Regular Season
OV = Overall (incl. playoffs)
"Our coaches do a great job and our players buy in to what we are selling because we really do not pass the eye test. Our receiving corps has been a surprise. They have come up huge for us. And the same came be said of our D-line."
Senior defensive end Andrew Joseph (6-1, 210) leads that unit with 43 solo and 35 assisted tackles to go with five sacks. Cornerback Will Wall, a senior, has 32 tackles, 24 assists and a pair of interceptions.
"We do not have a different approach to this game," said Joseph."We treat each game like all the others. We have to execute our game plan against a great opponent. I think I have played pretty well this season but I just try to do what the coaches tell me to do."
But Joseph, like all the participants, knows this game carries the highest of implications.
"I am going to be excited," he said. "Because this determines whether you are district champion or not. But I think I'll sleep well on Friday."
Winners of 17 consecutive regular-season games, Jesuit is in quest its third consecutive district title against an opponent that accomplished that feat from 2005-'07.
"Since Coach (Jay) Roth has been at Rummel, he has had his team in this (race) year in and year out," said Keiser. "Perennially, the road to the district championship goes through Severn (Avenue)."
And, of late, the same can be said of the program at Carrollton and Banks.
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