Crusader Football - 1

Weird Night in Bay St. Louis
Monk Zelden
Sam "Monk" Zelden's 1936 St. Aloysius footballers, newly christened the "Cru­saders" and sporting their new crimson uniforms, opened the season in Bay St. Louis MS at St. Stanislaus College, a sister school of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. A bizarre interlude interrupted play during the game.
  • Just as Monk's offense lined up on the SSC 3, the lights went out in the stadium.
  • When they came back on a few seconds later, the two elevens were still lined up at the 3, but the ball was nowhere to be found.
  • Suddenly, Zelden spotted a Rockachaw running down the field with the ball toward the opposite goal.
  • However, the officials brought the ball back to the original line of scrimmage and scolded the player.
  • The Crusaders then scored a touchdown on their way to a 13-0 victory.
  • Zelden later congratulated the Rocks' player who grabbed the ball in the darkness for being alert.

Interesting follow-up on "Monk" Zelden: He was an attorney during and after his five-year coaching stint on Esplanade Avenue. In 1963, he was offered an opportunity to participate in the defense of Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. As Zelden considered the offer, he saw Oswald get shot by Jack Ruby on TV. He also at one time served as the attorney for Mrs. Frank Costello, wife of the gambling czar.

"Most Brilliant Performance in Many a Year"

On Sunday, October 13, 1940, the St. Aloysius Crusaders met the Jesuit Blue Jays at "Municipal Stadium" in City Park. The Jays were heavy pre-season favorites to win the Prep league with a team averaging 175 lbs. - their "heaviest in eight years" (according to The Aloysian) - and "three complete units." The first 11 were all lettermen led by star LH O.J. Key, who, at 6'2" 195 lb, was 40 lb heavier than the average lineman of the day. Jesuit had begun the season beating Behrman 74-0! They also handed St. Stanislaus and its celebrated FB Felix "Doc" Blanchard a 21-0 defeat.

The Crusaders were 1-0-1 after tying Moss Point 0-0 and trouncing the first football team of the newly-coed Nicholls High 40-0. In the latter game, sophomore HB Johnny Campora set a school record with 197 yards on 18 carries. The Red Knights were coached for the second year by Harry "Wop" Glover. He was assisted by George "Mud" Clay, the "star G on Tulane's powerhouse aggregation of the past year."

Heavy underdogs (5 TDs according to The Aloysian), the Saints "turned in their most brilliant performance in many a year." They forced the Blue Jays to play heads up ball from the opening whistle to the last seconds.

  • Q1: Jesuit took advantage of mistakes to score first on Key’s pass to Johnny Ballatin. The PAT was muffed.
  • Q2: The Crusaders marched to the tying TD. Campora, "behind brilliant blocking by Jimmie Filkins, circled his own right end to cross the goal line standing up." The PAT failed. The Jays pushed across a score to lead 13-6 at the half.
  • Q3: SA drove 45 yards but lost the ball on downs. Then Key dashed 66 yards for a TD.
  • Q4: Aloysius held for four downs on their own one. Special praise went to Leon Chaplain and Campora "for making such a staunch defense of their goal line."
The Saders had still not defeated the Banks Street school on the gridiron but were proud of the competitive battle they had waged. The Blue Jays went undefeated, including a Prep championship-clinching victory over Holy Cross before 34,345 at City Park Stadium, on their way to their second state championship, in which they vanquished Lake Charles and its star QB Alvin Dark, future LSU and major league baseball player and manager.
Football 1940
Famous Fan
Mel Ott
Mel Ott

The 1940 Crusader footballers battled the Fortier Tarpons to a 0-0 tie at "Municipal Stadium" (now Tad Gormley). An article by Hap Glaudi in the Item-Tribune praised the St. Aloysius spirit and dubbed the Saints "the spunkiest team in the land" and "Wop" Glover "Prep coach of the year."

You would never have believed that a few days before they had dropped their big game to Jesuits. They were out there whooping it up from the first horn to the last.

Here is a note from The Aloysian about the game.

Can it be that the New York Giants are contemplating forming a football team or is it just that Mel Ott likes to root for a scrappy team? At any rate, however, it WAS Mel Ott who added to the din of the cheering at the Fortier game. For a man who never went to St. Aloysius, Mel showed us youngsters how a fan really should behave when he wants his team to win. … Two cousins of Mel are Aloysians. Manuel has joined the order of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and the other is at present attending school.

Born in Gretna, Mel Ott is the greatest baseball player from the New Orleans area. He played RF for the Giants from 1926-1947 and managed the team from 1942-48. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951.

Crusaders Scrimmage before NFL Exhibition

On September 5, 1964, the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys played a pre-season game at Tulane Stadium. Bill Arms' Crusader squad played a 15-minute scrimmage before the pro game against the Fortier Tarpons. The Aloysian reported:

Senior wingback Joe Smith stole the offensive spotlight for the Saints, as he picked up 54 yards in but four carries … Aloysius scored the game's only TD when [Kenny] Newfield drove into the end zone from three yards out and fumbled. But teammate Ben Plaia pounced on the ball for the score.

The '64 Saints bounced back from their 2-8 record in Arms' first season to finish 6-2-1 and district co-champions with Holy Cross, Jesuit, and Terrebonne. The District committee, using a three-part point system, chose the Tigers and Blue Jays to represent the district in the state playoffs.

Smith/Newfield 1964
Joe Smith (24) and Kenny Newfield (33) against Holy Cross in 1964.
Hurricane Washout

On Friday, October 2, 1964, St. Aloysius was scheduled to meet the Behrman Bees at Behrman Stadium in Algiers. However, the contest fell victim to Hurricane Hilda, which hit Louisiana on October 3 as a Category 3 storm in St. Mary Parish.

The Crusaders stood 2-0-1, with wins over West Jefferson, 14-6, and Terrebonne, 12-7, and a tie with East Jefferson, 7-7.

New Coaches 1964-5
New Coaches for 1964-5
Brother Martin Debuts on Gridiron
Chris Ezzell
Chris Ezzell

The first football game of Brother Martin High School occurred on Friday, September 5, 1969, at Tad Gormley Stadium. (The squad had played a scoreless tie with Chalmette in the Owls' Jamboree a week earlier.)

  • Andy Bourgeois' Crusaders, retaining the Aloysius nickname while wearing the crimson and gold of Cor Jesu, defeated Kennedy 28-0.
  • HB Chris Ezzell scored three times: a 91-yard punt return, an 11-yard sweep, and a 43-yard pass from QB Dennis Sabrio.
Conlin Era Begins
The 1970 Brother Martin football team won its first five games under new coach Bob Conlin, who took over when Andy Bourgeois left for a position with the Houston Oilers.
  • After a scoreless tie against the host team at the Thibodaux Jamboree, the Crusaders defeated Kennedy 26-0 at Tad Gormley Stadium.
  • A trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast brought a 14-9 victory over Gulfport East. The "Martin Mean Machine" came from behind twice.
  • An aftern oon of rain left the East Jefferson Stadium turf soggy for the District 6-AAAA opener, but the Crusaders served notice on the rest of the Catholic league by spotting the Rummel Raiders 6 points, then scoring 13 behind the running and punting of versatile Chris Ezzell.
  • A Thursday night tussle at Gormley produced a 20-7 triumph over De La Salle. Ezzell sealed the Cavaliers' fate with his 19-yard run after Joe Mattingly, filling in for injured QB Bobby Triemer, threw two TD aerials to Emile Fair.
  • The Chalmette Owls, a district member then as they were again 2011-13, were no match on their home turf for the Sader juggernaut. Ezell scored on a run, a pass reception, and the opening kickoff of the second half to spark the 34-0 rout. However, junior G Paul Lanoux was lost for the season with a knee injury.
  • The Martin express was finally derailed by Holy Cross. BM led 12-10 at half and retained that edge until Dave Falgoust kicked a FG with 5:10 left in the game for a 13-12 Tiger triumph.
De La Salle Football 1970
Conlin's first crew finished 7-3 and accepted an invitation to the Miracle Strip Bowl in Choctawhatchee FL where they lost to the host team 20-0.>
Welcome to the Rivalry, Coach
These two teams have been the most successful ones in the most successful Class AAAA district in the state over the last 10 years.
  • Times-Picayune writer Bryan Lazare was referring to Brother Martin and St. Augustine as they opened district play in 1980 in the Super­dome.
  • The Purple Knights, defending state champions, began the season 2-1 under new coach Jay Cunningham, who had the unenviable task of filling the shoes of the highly successful Otis Washington, who took a position on Jerry Stovall's staff at LSU.
  • Bob Conlin's Saders stood at 2-0-1 after tying Central Lafourche 6-6 and tromping East Jefferson 34-0 and Bonnabel 34-6.
  • Though a newcomer from Louisville, Cunningham knew the importance of the upcoming game.

    I've heard quite a bit about the rivalry with Martin. I've been watching films of past games with them this week. Martin's a very intense team with a lot of talent.

  • Conlin didn't see any dropoff in the Knights.

    They're still a good football team. They're every bit as talented as in the past. People are saying they aren't that good just because they lost to Carver. They're not as conservative as they were under Otis. They have more offense and they give you different looks and sets. But, personnel-wise, they're just as good as always.

  • The coaches agreed their defenses must play aggressively and pre­vent the opponent from controlling the ball.

They got their wish with a low-scoring game that hinged on several crucial plays.

  • After a scoreless Q1, St. Aug.'s Treg Songy punted to Leonce White, who fumbled at his 30, a Purple Knight recovering. But the turnover was nullified by a procedure penalty.
  • The second punt never got off as Barry Lemoine blocked the kick, giving BM possession at the 11.
  • After Toddy Francis gained 2y, David Stechmann tossed a scoring pass to wide-open John Planchet. The PAT failed, leaving Martin ahead 6-0 with 8:16 left in the half.
  • No more scoring occurred until lightning struck midway through Q3 in the form of an 83y gallop to pay dirt by Francis.
  • Another critical play came with 3:30 remaining in Q4 after St. Aug. had pulled to within five points at 12-7. On first down at midfield, WR Kevin Johnson broke open with no defender within 20y, but Kennth Dor­sey's pass sailed inches beyond his reach. On the next play, White intercepted Dorsey to snuff out Purple hopes.
The Crusaders exulted in their first triumph over St. Augustine in six years.

Mark Buchert
Mark Buchert takes a break
at Superdome

 

 

Leonce White runs vs St. Aug. 1980
Leonce White runs from St. Aug. defender.
Passing Record
Joey DiSalvo
Joe Di Salvo
In 1991, senior QB Joe Di Salvo set a Brother Martin single game passing record with 208 yards including a 69y TD to Frank Caracci. As you might guess, the record was achieved in a 32-21 loss to Shaw at Pan American Stadium as Bob Conlin's wishbone offense played catchup.
  • The defeat was the Crusaders' seventh in a row to the Eagles. Future LSU and NFL DB Tory James returned a punt 72 for a TD.
  • The contest was held at Pan American because Tad Gormley Stadium was being renovated for the 1992 Olympics trials.
  • In the last game of the regular season, BM defeated Rummel 37-14 at Yenni. The ninth straight triumph over the Raiders propelled the 5-5 Saders into the playoffs as District 10-5A runnerup.
  • However, they lost at Slidell 35-12, their first opening round defeat since 1984 (with four bi-district victories in between). Troy Twillie, another future LSU DB and track star, returned a punt 82y and an interception 98y for TDs.