Hatred – noun – prejudiced hostility or animosity; intense dislike or ill will
I guess that’s close enough.
Widely-considered the most heated rivalry in the area and arguably the state, La Salle College High School and Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School will write another chapter on Friday night at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
It is tough to accurately convey what it truly means to be part of such a historic rivalry. CBS 3’s [and SJP Class of ‘94] Steve Lindsay did a great job of getting the St. Joe’s Prep perspective but what does the rivalry mean to the La Salle gentlemen?
“When you were playing St. Joe’s it wasn’t just about winning for your teammates and coaches, but for the whole La Salle community. “
Former Explorer tight end Ryan Warrender ’08 explains that it isn’t just another rivalry. This one is personal.
“Playing St. Joe’s is like playing your brother one-on-one in basketball,” said Warrender. “It’s going to be intense, heated, and there will be blood as the game comes to a close.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Explorers have had tremendous success against the Hawks in recent years. Ever since La Salle’s upset win against St. Joe’s Prep on Thanksgiving 2005 at La Salle University, control of the rivalry has shifted from Girard Avenue to Cheltenham Avenue.
“From football to lacrosse, La Salle absolutely dominated St. Joe’s Prep during my era,” Warrender explained.
For many somewhat elder-statesmen, the rivalry really ramped up in November 2006 when the two squads squared off for the PCL Championship on a cold Black Friday night at Northeast High School. It was a tightly contested battle with a number of big defensive plays by the Explorers, including goal line fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by Greg Frantz ’07 and a key interception by defensive back Jack Forster ’07 late in the game.
La Salle would go on to win the game on a Joe Migliarese ’08 leaping touchdown grab thanks to a beautiful throw from La Salle’s record-breaking quarterback John Harrison ’08 to put the Explorers up 14-7 for good.
“I will forever remember being in that victory formation and awaiting Johnny Harrison to kneel on the ball,” Warrender said. “As time expired, Johnny threw his tight end a chest bump and the gold helmets flooded the field.”
“The unofficial start of the new era of La Salle football had begun.”
But what stands out for the current West Chester quarterback is the matchup against St. Joe’s Prep in the fall of 2008.
“Early in the 2008 season we had a victory over St. Joe’s but a lot of outsiders saw the win as a ‘fluke win’ for the underdog La Salle team,” Loughery explained.
“I think that even St. Joe’s Prep thought that they just had an ‘off’ day and that another matchup would be different. On the other hand, we were a young team who thought it was an opportunity for a momentum swing not just within the St. Joe’s Prep rivalry, but for our league as well. The 2008 playoff win over St. Joe’s meant a lot because it was a monkey off our backs.”
The rivalry encompasses the students from the moment they go through orientation and stays with them forever. La Salle vs. St. Joe’s Prep. It is always the game circled on the calendar. When you’re in school those guys down at Girard Avenue are just the worst.
But something weird happens after graduation. You begin to realize you have a lot more in common with those suit-coat sporting Jesuits than you had originally thought.
“Two of my really good friends now are Pete Hurley [SJP ’10] and Mike Labor [SJP ‘10],” said Loughery. “Both of those guys were in my grade at St. Joe’s and were big time football players there. Back in high school we used to hate guys like them because they were notable St. Joe’s football kids. I had never met either of them but that’s just how they were perceived.
“Once I got to college and got to be friends with those guys, you realize that they're regular people just like me. It makes you wonder how we ever hated them so much without even knowing them. That just goes to show the magnitude of the rivalry for these high school kids. “
The magnitude is there alright. Look no further than the capacity crowd expected for the game on Friday night.
All the friendships will be put aside to don the navy and gold or crimson and grey. The old rivalries will be rehashed. The student sections will be out in full force. The trash talking will return to top-form.
It’s going to be a great atmosphere.
If history repeats itself, the game is going to be a knockdown, drag-out fight going down to the wire. If history repeats itself, La Salle will be victorious.
Hail La Salle! Go Explorers!
La Salle College High School '08
Follow Steve on Twitter @SDolan3
Follow Whiz Wit on Twitter @WhizWitSports