It’s a rivalry that pits two schools against each other. Two schools with a long history of butting heads. Two schools that have had more than their fair share of differences both on and off the field. But tonight, those two schools face off to determine who the true “top-dog” of the North Shore is.
The St. Paul’s vs. Mandeville game is always a fan-pleasing and passion-filled game. With the schools being so close in location and talent alike, this game promises to be one of the top district games to watch this year.
“We’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time,” St. Paul’s quarterback, junior Ryan O’Krepki, said. “The build up is pretty big. If y’all don’t feel that, we definitely do.”
Head Coach Ken Sears added that the team is ready for the district game.
“I think they’re confident. We practiced well, and usually when we practice well, we play well.”
Both teams are certainly feeling the build up. As many remember, the rival game held at Mandeville High School last year went down to the very end. With the final Mandeville field goal attempt being blocked in the last seconds of regulation, and the touchdown pass from D’Angelo to Malone in overtime, the game ended with St. Paul’s on top 16 to 13.
“Since we moved to a spread, our offense is basically their offense, we do a lot of things similar,” O’Krepki stated. “Them going against us, in a lot of ways, is good for them. It’s more of us on offense playing our game and making them follow us.”
But, St. Paul’s isn’t doing much differently in preparing for the game, according to Sears.
“We’re treating it like any other game. Every game takes a lot of preparation, and certainly we won’t change our routine this week because it’s Mandeville,” Sears said.
With Mandeville standing at 4-1 (2-0 in district), their high-powered offense is the strong suit of the team. With senior quarterback Glen Cuillette leading off the unit, SPS will have their hands full on defense.
“I know our players have practiced well, and Coach Pierre has them prepared,” Sears said about the defense. “I sure they’re going to do a great job Friday night.”
But, St. Paul’s offense has also proved its dominance this year. Lead by O’Krepki, senior running back Marcus Gaines, and senior wide receiver Mitch Brumfield, the Wolves have scored 104 collective points in the first two district games.
“Of course, it’s Mandeville. It’s more of a personal match-up versus your average district opponent. They’re really good,” O’Krepki said.
The game is definitely not your average weekly match-up. With the combination of the rivalry, and it being one of the most important district games of the year for both teams, fans will be flooding into Hunter Stadium tonight. And, with all those fans comes an exponential amount of noise. The team hopes that the Wolf Nation is fired up for the game.
“I hope it (the noise) is a factor in our favor,” Sears said. “I hope out student section comes out and our fans come out and cheer the Wolves onto victory.”
O’Krepki feels the same way, but also added that the noise won’t be much of a factor.
“I’m hoping it will be good; that’s up to you guys. But, it doesn’t change us very much other than just being excited to play,” he said. “Once the ball’s kicked off, football is football.”
St. Paul’s encourages all students and fans to come out and support the football Wolves in tonight’s home game against the Mandeville High Skippers. Kick-off in Hunter Stadium is at scheduled for 7:00 p.m.