Roncalli’s football rivalry with Cathedral isn’t in need of extravagant introductions.
Name the year, and there’s a better-than-even chance the Rebels and Irish played at some point of the regular season, during the postseason or both. Every step of the way, regardless where the game was played, blood — traditional and bad — has
been spilled, feelings stepped on with cleated footwear.
Roncalli detests Cathedral. The Irish can’t stand the Rebels.
Let the good times roll.
Even time can’t dilute the unmistakable bitterness of a series that resumes tonight at Tech High School with No. 3 Roncalli taking on No. 7 and two-time defending state champion Cathedral in the title game of a Class 4A sectional.
This is Bruce Scifres’ 23rd season as the Rebels’ head coach. He’s savored some of his highest highs and winced his way through some of his lowest coaching lows against Cathedral. Ditto 18th-year Irish coach Rick Streiff, who has seen some awfully good ball clubs of his come up short against Scifres & Co.
So expect to see two old-school programs butting helmets with much more than pride at stake.
“Any time you get to the tournament, the issue is to play your best game on that given night. We want to focus on what we do well and do them better,” said Scifres, whose program looks to snap an eight-game losing streak against Cathedral that includes four sectional eliminations. “Offensively, Cathedral again is a very good power running team.
“On defense, they just have 11 guys who just fly to the football. Just a very physical, very well-coached football team.”
Led by 6-foot-3 junior quarterback Cam Smock and senior running back Dylan Evans operating behind the program’s trademark mammoth offensive line, the Rebels surprised many last week with a 35-14 victory at No. 5 and once-beaten Greenwood.
“As far as all three phases of the game clicking pretty well, I would say it was our best game this season,” Scifres said. “I think we’ve improved in all phases as the season has gone on.”
Meanwhile, Cathedral’s 6-5 record should include a few asterisks. Five of them. Unafraid to square off against a murderer’s row regular-season schedule, the Irish losses were, in order, to Class 5A power Ben Davis (by 3 points), Cincinnati St. Xavier (by 6), defending Class 3A state champion Chatard (by 14), Louisville Trinity (by 8) and Cincinnati Moeller (by 35).
But the Irish enter tonight on a roll. Cathedral’s sectional wins against Northview and Lebanon were by a combined score of 111-19.
Tonight, though, it’s Roncalli. A different kind of challenge altogether.