It all started with the pep rally. Hundreds of young Eagle brothers all gathered for one purpose: to continue the streak.
A big stage. Standing on the shoulders of giants never felt so real.
The adrenaline went from 100 to zero. Nerves were on edge as players carefully and quietly took their seats on the bus from the pep rally. Silence. From the moment they boarded to the moment they first took the field, not a whisper.
Solitude. Quiet. Focus. Uniting as one.
The time came for the team to finally walk under those bright lights, waiting, just waiting, for their chance at super stardom.
It was only a couple hours before they could seize their destiny and leave behind a legacy that would stay with them throughout the rest of their lives.
They perched all throughout the field, feeling the soft yet firm turf that would be the backbone for game that would shock Strake Jesuit to their core and leave endless elation for St. Thomas.
“Playing at NRG Stadium was a really cool experience and not many people get the opportunity to play in the nicest and biggest stadium in Houston. Especially winning a game of that caliber and in that fashion, it was definitely a lot of fun. With the tradition and history of such a long, tough rivalry such as this one, both teams really wanted to win. This year, along with last year, we grinded it out and finished strong no matter what had happened earlier in the game.”
–David Jones, Senior
The time finally came for these hard working athletes to prove to the football community that they should not be taken lightly. Through times of adversity and doubt, the Eagle football time finally gets a chance to put Strake in their rightful place and do so on one of the biggest stages in Houston.
Eagerness. Anticipation. Each player felt it.
Feelings like these left the players with a hunger for Crusader blood. They waited and waited to storm the field, but were held back by the red curtains from the monstrous Tom Eagle, gathering his convocation of Eagles before setting them free from the next to soar to new heights and leave a path of destruction.
The band thundered with all their might in the cavernous NRG Stadium, the captains started chanting. Red was most definitely ready to play.
The intensity ran high while the crowd quickly collected in their seats. The fans were running wild, kicking and screaming at the sight of their beloved players.
The ref blew his whistle as both teams lined up for kick off. Players could feel the heartbeats of their prey, while theirs were in their own throats, staring down their opponents with determination, wondering if their opponent would make it out alive.
Kickoff soars, steadily flying through the air in the dome. The anticipation, preparation, adrenaline, all the hard work to land these two teams in NRG had finally paid off.
The fans roared as the Eagles flew down the sidelines, knocking down anything in their paths. The Strake Jesuit Crusaders struggled to gain any yardage as defenders quickly latched onto the returner.
As the Eagle defense took the field for the first time that game, they stormed to the football, wrecking havoc among Jesuit players. Nothing blocked their path to success. They set the tone early and readily enforced their presence on that field. Knocking heads, eleven men to the football, all core characteristics of the Eagle defense.
The game plan was simple. Defense was to turn the ball over quickly so that they could allow the offense to score.
The Eagles’ first drive on offense ended in success with an outstanding pass from senior Michael Keating, quarterback, to senior Drew Guidroz, tight end. This set the tone for the game showing that the Eagle football team was going to dominate the Crusaders on both sides.
As the game progressed, the game seemed to shift and change momentum in an instant. One moment Strake would score and the next STH would create some outstanding play that would lead to a touchdown.
One of the biggest plays of this gutwrenching game happened when coach Keith Page, in his debut season as offensive coordinator, called for a momentum changing play that shook the stadium with noise: Fake run left and dump the ball to senior Landon Malouf for the touchdown.
The play, simple as it may sound, tricked the Crusader defense into creating a fatal mistake.
“We knew the corners were biting hard on the run. We had run quarterback stretch to the weak side quite a bit. Thought we would have a big play if we executed this specific play.”
-Keith Page, Coach
Halftime eventually came around too soon it may have seemed for the Eagles. Trailing at halftime, head coach Tim Fitzpatrick gave the team a great motivational speech and then let the players step up and lead their teammates.
Hearts filled with anger and eyes filled with determination. The refreshed team stormed the field after that buzzer hit zero. Everyone was cheering. Not a single fan in the student section sat down the whole second half.
Hearts raced as Strake broke free late in the fourth quarter. No one expected the Crusaders to put even more points up on the board as they took the lead right out of St. Thomas’ hands.
This was not a problem for the Eagle football team due to their overcoming of the odds last year in one of the most memorable games St. Thomas has seen in a long time. But, with a game of this significance, anything can surprise.
Just like last year, St. Thomas gloriously beat Strake within the last minute of the match, in cardiac fashion.
“It’s been awesome to beat Strake the way we have the past two years, both of them on game winning passes,” Keating said. “I think it shows how great this rivalry is and how competitive it is.”
–Michael Keating, Quarterback
The score, 42–35 in favor of St. Thomas, gave the senior class a perfect story book ending to end their high school lives knowing that they never lost to Strake in a football game, in addition to being the first varsity team in three decades to streak for four victories.