FOOTBALL: Holy Bowl in dormant mode after 46th renewal

Central Catholic & Holy Cross each hope to resume series in future

AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Central Catholic, Holy Cross.



There will be a hole in the Holy Bowl series.

The Holy Bowl was first played in 1963 and continued every year until its only previous hiatus, from 1993 to 1998. The Central Catholic-Holy Cross series will be interrupted again for at least the next two years. Neither school could find a mutually agreeable playing date in the 2014 season.

“It’s a hard thing for me to talk about, because we really wanted to play,” Holy Cross football coach/athletic director Mike Harrison said. “We did try to work it out for this year. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out.”

The second hiatus in the 46-year series comes at a time when it was at its competitive peak.

Although Central Catholic has a commanding 35-11 lead in series victories, the teams have proved to be fairly even in the 21st century. The Buttons have won eight of 14 games since 2000 and has a 310-282 scoring advantage in that stretch of the series.

New Central Catholic coach L.D. Green wasn’t on the Buttons staff when the 2014 schedule was created. He was hired in June. However, the former Trinity University assistant coach knows the rivalry’s intensity first-hand.

Green was an assistant to current Central Catholic athletic director Carlos Enrico from 2007 to 2010. Although, coincidentally, they haven’t won a series battle since, the Buttons won each of those four games.

“I wasn’t here,” Green said, “but I was (surprised) Holy Cross wasn’t on the schedule. The Holy Bowl, I thought, was a pretty good deal. In the four years I was here, it was a very competitive game.

“The kids prepared for it and stepped up their games. I hope it doesn’t end up like the Chili Bowl. I’d like to see it come back but, if it doesn’t happen, we’ll move forward.”

The Chili Bowl, pitting Fox Tech against Lanier, was the city’s oldest high school rivalry at the time of its termination in 2009. The end of that 67-year-old series was necessitated when Fox Tech eliminated its football program.

With its 51st renewal scheduled for Nov. 7, the Frontier Bowl – featuring Harlandale and McCollum – is San Antonio’s premier active rivalry. The Holy Bowl is the second-oldest.

As with the University of Texas-Texas A&M University football series, outside factors contributed to the paus e in Holy Bowl history. Like the Aggies and Longhorns, the Buttons and Knights found themselves in separate leagues.

Both tidal waves hit the respective fan bases in fall 2012. The difference was that Central Catholic and Holy Cross found a way to extend their series two more years, while the future of Texas-A&M was washed away – possibly forever.

“Back when they were in our district, it was a big deal,” Enrico said. “You were playing for something. When it got to be a non-district game, we kept it up as a good, old rivalry.

“The kids got to play in front of, like, 10,000 fans. They just had to look at the crowd to know it was a big game.”

Three of the last seven Holy Bowls, including the two most-recent contests, were decided by a touchdown, or fewer, points. Since 2000, the series has fallen into a pattern with Central Catholic winning four-consecutive games and Holy Cross winning next three.

The Knights’ 21-14 win in 2013 stretched their winning streak to three games.

“We were on a roll,” Harrison said. “We had high hopes that it would continue.”

Until 2011, Central Catholic and Holy Cross both were in TAPPS 2-I and the game was the regular-season finale. The Buttons remained in the Class 5A district but realignment dropped the Knights to TAPPS 3-II, where they have remained.

The last two Holy Bowls were played in the first week of the season.

Last year, Holy Cross canceled the junior varsity game, according to Enrico. The Central Catholic athletic director said he wanted to make sure that the teams would compete on the underclass levels as well. He suggested that they target Sept. 19.

“That was the big reason we wanted to moved to Week (4),” Enrico said. “But I got a letter from Holy Cross’ president (Brother Stanley Culotta) and he told me that it was the weekend of their big (Blue & Gold) gala.”

Enrico said he then finalized Central Catholic’s schedule with a Sept. 19 home game against Class 4A Devine.

“We felt that it should be a Week 1 game,” Harrison said. “That was our standard from the get-go. When they didn’t want to do that, we looked around to see if there were other days available.

Holy Cross will play at Class 4A Hondo on Sept. 19. He said the Knights plan to continue their traditional Holy Bowl tailgate party.

“I’ll tell you now, to our boosters the Holy Bowl was a huge game to our boosters,” said Harrison, who indicated he’s amenable to resuming the series in the future. “We’ll try to replicate it with other games.”

Because of realignment and scheduling conflicts, the gap in the series will remain for at least the next two years.

“If it could be worked out,” Enrico said, “I’d like to play them. That’s a really good-dollar gate for both schools.”

Even if it doesn’t happen during the season’s opening week, Buttons and Knights alums and fans are certain to feel a void at some point this year. Chances are, it will kick in around Sept. 19.



Central Catholic 8 wins

Holy Cross 6 wins

(winner in boldface)

Date         Central Catholic         Holy Cross

2000                    14                                10               

2001                    28                                  9               

2002                    17                                15               

2003                    34                                  0               

2004                    20                                31               

2005                     7                                  30               

2006                     7                                  28               

2007                     13                                 9               

2008                     41                                 7               

2009                      34                              14               

2010                      42                              14               

2011                      27                              57               

2012                      32                              37               

2013                      14                              21               


Total points       310                           282               

Overall series record:

Central Catholic 35 wins

Holy Cross 11 wins

About Mike Considine (1441 Articles)
I started this blog as an extension of the sports stories I've been doing as an independent contractor for the Southside Reporter the past five years. I've been a sportswriter for more than 35 years, including two stints with the late, lamented San Antonio Light. I cover high school football for the San Antonio Express-News in the fall. My purpose, in creating this blog, is to shine a light on the athletic achievements of teams and athletes on the south side of San Antonio.

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