Joe Davidson

Holy revival: Struggling Jesuit rolls rival Christian Brothers in Holy Bowl

Sweat poured off Marlon Blanton’s head, and the Jesuit High School football coach toweled it away.

This was 10 minutes before kickoff on Saturday night at Hughes Stadium, where the game-time temperature was 88 degrees but the heat index on Jesuit’s early-season results was searing red, flushed in a bit of frustration and anger from an 0-2 start.

But there’s nothing like a Holy Bowl rout to set a season back on track.

The Bee-ranked No. 12 Marauders looked the part of Delta League title contender with a 43-14 rout of No. 16 Christian Brothers in the 47th showdown of rivals. A crowd of more than 12,000 – CB in blue, Jesuit in red –saw the exploits of two national recruits, two entertaining and skilled quarterbacks, a lot of first-half scoring and too many fumbles for either team to feel good about.

And what’s a Holy Bowl buzz without a streaker? A teenage lad bolted across the field late in the third quarter, fueled by the crowd noise, sure to win a bet somewhere. He scaled a fence after a 105-yard sprint, only to be tackled hard by law enforcement.

As for Jesuit, Blanton wondered before the game where his team stood, how good the Marauders can be.

“We’re trying to see where we are,” Blanton said.

Jesuit entered the season with high expectations, bolstered by 12 returning starters from a team that reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals. The Marauders lost to No. 1 Folsom 55-9 and No. 2 Granite Bay 31-21 to open this campaign. There is no shame in either of those setbacks, though mistakes only helped to doom their cause.

The Marauders offensive line did not dominate in the opening games but it did against Christian Brothers, which is 0-2, including a last-moment loss to section power Manteca despite five touchdown passes by Gunnor Faulk of the Falcons.

Faulk had some dazzling moments against Jesuit, including touchdown strikes of 32 yards to Tyler Green to tie it 7-7 and 23 to Spencer Webb to cut it to 23-14 in the first half. Webb showed why he is a national recruit, headed to Oregon on scholarship, including bowling over defenders on catches from his tight end spot.

But CB had no answer for the speed and power of Jesuit’s running game. Isaiah Rutherford had an 85-yard touchdown burst on Jesuit’s second possession, his second 80-yard score of the season, and Jason Gallagher and Lorenzo Burkes rumbled for scores of 44 and 42 yards. Gallagher also had a 1-yard scoring plunge.

Demario Keyes had a 99-yard kickoff return for Jesuit, with a key block from Cade Brownholtz, with 1:03 left in the half for a 29-14 lead.

Jesuit quarterback Josh Farr also had some good moments as he vowed to get his team back on track, and he threw a perfect-strike 70-yard scoring strike to Evan Panson.

There was a moment of silence before the game to honor Dick Sperbeck, the famed Christian Brothers coach of the 1960s and ‘70s who died last week at 84 from a lung infection. He was a driving force to getting the Holy Bowl started in 1969 (both school administrations initially feared such a rivalry would cause animosity among students and alumni).

One of Sperbeck’s top players was Dan Carmazzi, who played quarterback in the first two Holy Bowls and has been involved in more Holy Bowls than anyone. He got his coaching start at CB under Sperbeck.

As a player, assistant coach and head coach at Jesuit and later at CB, Carmazzi has been involved in all but four Holy Bowls (when he attended UC Davis). He stepped down as the CB coach last season after earning Bee Coach of the Year honors and now works as an assistant in the coach’s box.

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