The first battle in 17 years between two long-rivaling East Metro powers went its way to St. Thomas’ Academy.
The TCO Performance Center in Egan had cadets all night as St Thomas’ Academy topped Cretin-Derham Hall 41–14 in the first meeting between the two schools since 2004.
The rivalry, which dates back to the time of the two schools in the St. Paul City Conference in the late 1970s and early 1980s, renewed this season as the Raiders moved down from Class 6A to Class 5A.
The matchup attracted thousands of patrons to the Vikings’ practice facility, including Cretin-Derham Hall and Minnesota Viking alums Matt Birk and Michael Floyd.
St Thomas’ Academy coach Dan O’Brien said both schools had alumni programs before the big show. Raiders coach Chuck Misbauer said what helps make the rivalry special is that the kids get to know each other as they grow up, and on Friday they got to meet once again on the gridiron.
“It’s fun. It was great. Our kids were excited about it all week. There was a lot of crowd on both teams,” O’Brien said. “To be able to play at this venue, I think it’s both communities. It was great for me, not just for the player. But I think the experience for the fans, the alumni. …It was great to have the rivalry back.”
The cadets have been among the elite of Class 5A for years, and under O’Brien’s watchful eye are contenders for a consistent state title. Nothing suggests Friday’s competition will be any different this season.
Crettin-Derham Hall (0-3) wanted to get over the board on his first drive of the game, but it spun the ball down inside the Cadets’ 10-yard line. The tone seemed to have been set for the night. After that, the Raiders struggled to fight quite aggressively until the final frame.
Meanwhile, St Thomas’ Academy (3-0) scored early and often. The sophomore ran into a 44-yard touchdown in the first quarter to lead 7-0, leaving Savian Lopez behind. St. Thomas’ Academy then retrieved the incoming kick and scored another touchdown – a 9-yard run from Love Adebayo.
“We come out and we score immediately. We get a stop. We get a play on special teams, anything can lead to a more favorable start to the game,” said Raiders coach Chuck Misbauer. “When that stuff happens, you never know what might happen. But we didn’t make some plays and maybe we didn’t have some right calls. … we didn’t make big plays across the board, and they did.”
Grady O’Neill’s 52-yard rushing touchdown made it 21-0 cadet later in the second. Adabayo scored another rushing touchdown – the second of three rushing scores for him on the night in the third quarter – and O’Neill scored again – this time with a 7-yard scoring strike from Maximus Sims – to extend the start of the fourth. The Cadets took a 34-0 lead – the biggest advantage of the game.
O’Neill, who took photographs at quarterback and receiver, also played defensively as part of a package for the Cadets, including Cretin-Derham Hall star Trey Holloman, who debuted as quarterback for the first time this season.
O’Brien said the Cadets’ offensive line – a unit O’Neill called “ridiculous” – “had a good night.” St. Thomas Academy ran 38 times for 292 yards on Friday. O’Neill had 118 yards on the ground, while Lopez had 91 and Adebayo had 61.
“Our offensive line rolled down,” O’Neill said. “So obviously we have two running backs who are really good players. It prepared me to get the ball, get the ball to other people, and commit offences. ”
The Raiders’ offense got things going in the fourth quarter thanks to a pair of touchdowns from quarterback Luke Floysand, who came into relief in the final frame to run for one score and pass for another. Cretin-Derham Hall running back Will Hader has 108 yards of total offense.
Cretin-Derham Hall is winless through three weeks but has endured a brutal early-season schedule. The Raiders’ three defeats came to three teams in the top six in Class 5A in the state, and they put up tough fights at Mahtomedi and Spring Lake Park.
“We have to keep at this. It’s been one heck of a three-game stretch for us, and man, tooth-and-nails in the first two, and I wish I could say the same about tonight,” Misbauer said. Said. “All we can do is come back. We can learn from this and see what the next team has in store and try to right the ship. This is a good football team. I believe it at its core. Did not reflect tonight. I think that was reflected in the last two games. We have five to go, and there’s no reason we can’t play something at that pace…and get everything rocking and rolling in section time. ”