Crusader Sports - 8
Crusader Lacrosse Began with "Yes, Dear"
A report published in August 2017 listed lacrosse as the nation's fastest-growing sport with participation topping 450,000 for the first time. Brother Martin first fielded a lacrosse team during the 2006-7 school year. Here's the story of how that came about.

It isn't often a man returns home and learns from his wife that he is now the coach of a sport he knows nothing about.

  • That's what happened to Billy Kirkikis in 2004. Spurred by the interest her sons showed in lacrosse and with the encouragement of Activities Director Claire LeBlanc, Christi Kirkikis applied for a grant from US Lacrosse to start a club team at Brother Martin.
  • Required to list a coach, she put Billy's name since he had coached their sons' teams in other sports.
  • Mr. Speyrer of the Religion Department agreed to be the Faculty Moderator of the club.
  • The application was approved, but Katrina delayed shipment of the equipment until the spring of 2007.
That gave Billy time to bone up on the rules and strategies of the game since the grant didn't include training for the coach.
  • He scoured Internet sites, watched videos, and read books on lacrosse. Local coaches and college players helped, answering his questions.
  • Billy posted a signup sheet at school and began making phone calls to line up games.
  • His recruiting was too successful. He had 38 players but only 24 sets of uniforms and equipment.
  • One happy outcome of the equipment shortage was that players raced to practice at City Park to meet Billy's truck when he drove up with the gear.

That first season was a learning experience for Billy as well as the players.

  • An official would call a penalty, and Billy would check his rule book and, if necessary, ask for an explanation.
  • Through hard work, the team became more competitive as the season progressed.

The last game of the 2007 season provided a springboard to future success.

  • The Crusaders traveled to Mississippi to play Gulf Coast LC, a veteran team that had defeated them earlier. Brother Martin came from behind to tie the game at 3. When the final whistle blew, the players celebrated as if they had won.
  • The officials told Billy, "We're doing a Braveheart." His reaction was immedi­ate: "What's a Braveheart?" Turns out it's a sudden death overtime in which each team puts its goalie in position and chooses one player to face off at midfield.
  • The Crusaders selected Will Kirkikis to oppose the Greyhounds' all-stater. The opponent controlled the faceoff and took off toward the goal, but Will caught him and checked his shot. Freshman goalie Mitch Rogers grabbed the ball and threw to Will, who raced to the other end and missed.
  • The action went back and forth several times until finally Will faked the goalie and laid in the winner. Pandemonium again and this time the dogpile celebrated a victory, not a tie.
  • The brief first season thus ended with a 1-1 record.

2007 Brother Martin Lacrosse Team
To be continued ...

Coach Kirkikis exhorts his players.

Crusader Lacrosse - 2

The Louisiana High School Lacrosse League (LHSLL) was formed in 2008, but no playoffs were held until the following year.

  • After a brief two-game season in 2007, Crusader lacrosse played an 11-game schedule in 2008.
  • The four victories came against De La Salle 8-2, Catholic of Baton Rouge twice, 4-2 and 10-9, and Gulf Coast LC 9-4.
  • The seven losses included a tough overtime loss to Jesuit, 11-10, and a 9-8 squeaker at Mandeville.
The 2009 Crusaders made the first playoffs of the new league.
  • As a member of the LHSLL Division 1, East District, the Crimson and Gold lost their first three games to Ocean Springs MS (8-3 and 6-4) and Jesuit (7-2).
  • Then they rallied and ripped off three victories: Rummel (11-4), Catholic High (6-5 in triple OT), and Mandeville (7-6).
  • As one of the top eight teams in the state, Billy Kirkikis's third Crusader team traveled to Shreveport for a first-round playoff game against Byrd. The Yellow Jackets won 15-5.

2010 proved to be Brother Martin's first winning season.

  • The Lacrosse Club now had 8th, 9th, JV, and Varsity teams for a total of 80 members. Parent volunteers helped Billy coach the expanded program.
  • Led by All-State Goalie Mitch Rogers ('10), all-state Middle Donald Davis ('12), and all-District Attack Walker Kirkikis ('12), the Crusaders won their first four matches by a combined score of 69-9. Included with the victims were St. Paul's (17-2) and Rummel (22-4).
  • After two losses by a combined 25-5, the Saders bounced back with wins over Mandeville (12-11) and St. Paul's again (16-10).
  • After a loss to Byrd, the Crusaders defeated Catholic High 11-9 to earn a home game for the first round of the playoffs.
  • Catholic again traveled from Baton Rouge for the match and lost again, this time 22-6.
  • However, Martin's most successful season ended with a road loss in the semifinals to St. Thomas More 8-4.
Continued below ...

'09 Crusaders prepare to face Mandeville

The Kirkikis Brothers: Will, Walker, and Scout

Crusader Lacrosse - 3

2011 State Runnerup Trophy

Kyle Scaffidi competes in 2013.

Garret Frey in 2014.

After their first winning season in 2009-10, the Crusader lacrosse team finished 7-8 in 2011.
  • After starting four straight wins, the Saders lost six in a row and eight of their last nine.
  • But they surprised St. Paul's in the first round of the LHSLL Division 1 playoffs 11-5 to avenge the 12-11 defeat two weeks earlier.
  • Then the Crusaders made the long trek to Shreveport for the second time in the season and turned around a 14-8 loss to Byrd with a 17-8 victory to reach the state finals.
  • St. Thomas More proved to be too much for the Saders, 17-4. Still, state runner-up marked the team's best finish in the five-year history of lacrosse on Elysian Fields Avenue.
The 2012 season paralleled the previous campaign.
  • The Crusaders again started strong, winning their first five games.
  • But they lost four of their next five to finish the regular season 6-4.
  • As happened the year before, they faced a team in the playoffs that had defeated them several weeks earlier. But this time, the Jesuit Blue Jays prevailed again, this time 8-7 in double OT.

    2012 Action vs Jesuit

Martin again hovered around the .500 mark during the 2012-13 season.

  • They finished the regular season 6-6.
  • An especially satisfying victory came at home against St. Thomas More, the Saders' conqueror in the state finals two years earlier.
  • A trip across Lake Pontchartrain for the first round of the playoff resulted in a 10-2 defeat at the hands of St. Paul's.

2013-14 proved to be founding coach Billy Kirkikis's last season.

  • The Saders won only two games - Central 13-3 and Dutchtown 11-6
  • The Blue Jays trounced the Crimson and Gold 17-3 in the first round of the playoffs.

Ray Davis took over as coach for the 2014-15 season.

Continued below ...

Crusader Lacrosse - 4

Dylan Mattio in 2015 action

Coach Greg Anderson

Edwin Pigeon in 2016 action

Ray Davis coached the Crusader lacrosse team for a single season, 2014-15.

  • The Saders scored five victories, all by large margins.
    --Dutchtown 10-4
    --Holy Cross 16-0
    --Mandeville 22-7
    --St. Martin's 15-0
    --Gautier (MS) 22-0.
  • However, the Crimson and Gold suffered seven defeats, including a tough loss in the first round of the state playoffs to St. Thomas More 9-8.
Greg Anderson took over as head coach for the following season.
  • A native of Maryland, Greg played four years of high school lacrosse, then three years in college at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (famous for its basketball team pulling off the first upset of a #1 team, Virginia, by a #16 team in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 2018).
  • Anderson moved to New Orleans in 2010 when he accepted position at the Aquarium of the Americas.

The 2015-16 Crusaders set a school record for victories with eleven, three more than in any previous season.

  • A highlight of the season was winning the Allstate Sugar Bowl Lacrosse Classic, outscoring seven opponents 63-10.
  • The team entered the state playoffs on a four-game winning streak.
  • Victories over Byrd (12-6) and Loyola-Shreveport (6-5) put the Crusaders in the finals for the first time.
  • Alas, Jesuit won the title 15-6 at Joe Yenni Stadium.
  • The great season earned Greg Anderson the Louisiana High School Lacrosse League Coach of the Year honor.
  • Seniors Jack Bryant, Kerby Stieffel, Garrett Frey, and Lee Davis earned first team All District honors. Davis led the team with 36 goals and 12 assists.

    Kerby Steiffel, Holden Savoie, and Lee Davis with the state runner-up trophy
With so many seniors leaving, 2016-17 would be a rebuilding year.

Continued below ...

Crusader Lacrosse - 5

Drew Dodd

Noah Velez

2016-17 was the rebuilding year for Crusader Lacrosse, as expected.

  • The Saders won only four of sixteen games.
  • But they did defeat Newman 14-0 in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Jesuit 18-4.
  • Sophomore Drew Dodd and juniors Jackson Schneider, Noah Velez, and Chase Mountain made the All District team and earned Honorable Mention All State.
  • So the foundation was laid for better years to follow.
Greg Anderson's third Brother Martin squad compiled a 9-4 record in 2017-18.
  • Included were road wins at Catholic High in Baton Rouge and Dutchtown.
  • The playoffs brought the same foes as the previous season and the same results. Newman was outclassed 13-0 before Jesuit won a hard-fought 9-6 victory in the quarterfinals.
  • The four all-district performers from the previous year repeated and were joined by senior Jonathan Code and junior Jacob Bodino.
  • Jackson Schneider made first team All-State while Noah Velez and Bodino earned spots on the second team.

2019 saw Brother Martin reach the state finals for the third time in program history.

  • Led by the state Defensive MVP, goalie Jack Bodino, the Crusaders finished with an 11-6-1 record.
  • Martin again began the playoffs with a victory over Newman, 10-6. The next foe was Jesuit, and the Crusaders turned the tables on the Blue Jays 6-3.
  • Next came a thrilling 15-11 triumph over Catholic High in the semifinals in Lafayette.
  • St. Paul's won the state championship match 8-3.

Jackson Schneider

Chase Mountain

2019 Lacrosse Seniors

11 Drew Dodd, 21 William Walsten, 32 Ryan Templet, 43 Cy Lowe,
47 Elliot Martinez, 48 Jake Bodino, 50 Chris Stassi

Jonathan Code
All in the Family

Norman Ballatin

Maurice Blache

The January 1934 issue of The Aloysian proclaimed, "Track Prospects Bright for 1934."
  • Eddie Daigle, one of the fastest Prep runners in the state, had grad­uated. But seniors Norman Ballatin, Arnold Chabaud, and Mau­rice Blache returned along with speedy junior Alvin Liska, who took Eddie's place as star RB of the football team.
  • Early in the '34 track season, Ballatin, a muscular senior, set a New Orleans high school record in the shot put of 49' 4" in the dual meet with Jesuit.

Ballatin and two other Panthers qualified for the "state rally" in track April 27-28.

  • The other entrants were sprinter Liska and Blache in the broad jump.
  • Norman also broke the state record in the discus with a heave of 130' 9.1". That kept the mark in the family as Norm's older brother Eddie had set the previous record in 1930 (130' 7 4/5").
  • Ballatin also won first place in the shot put in Baton Rouge with a throw of 49' 3 3/4".
  • Liska gave a good account of himself as well. He won the 220 with a time of 23 seconds. Al also finished 3rd in the 100y dash.
  • Blache finished 4th in the broad jump (20' 3 1/2").

The track season culminated in the Senior Prep Track Meet at Tulane Stadium May 25-26.

  • Ballatin again established a new meet record of 129' 6" in the dis­cus. He also engaged in the most interesting battle of the day with Ray Nussbaum of Warren Easton in the shot put. Norman set a new meet record the first day only to have Nussbaum surpass it the next day. Records were made and broken three times in succession until Ballatin's last heave of 49' 5 3/4" ruled the day.
  • Blache also set a record in the broad jump - 23' 1/4", and won the hop-step-and-jump with 42' 11".
  • Liska crossed the finish line first in both the 100 and 220y dashes.
  • Junior Ambrose Veglia finished 3rd in the mile race, and the relay team of Liska, Blache, and juniors Edward Noullet and Alex Vinti came in 3rd to put Aloysius into a second place with Easton in the meet with 34 points.
  • Ballatin, Blache, and Liska tied for 2nd place in individual points earned with 10 apiece.

Al Liska