High School Sports

St. Stanislaus celebrates 100 years of football Friday


BAY ST. LOUIS -- Mississippi high school football began on Dec. 9, 1905, when Yazoo City defeated Winona 5-0 in the state's first prep football game.

A short decade or so after that first game, the gridiron opened at St. Stanislaus College.

Friday, when SSC hosts Bay High in the "Battle for the Crab Trap," the Rockachaws will honor the century of football tradition.

The first game was played on the same piece of land owned by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart where the Brother Philip Memorial Athletic Complex is located today. That hallowed strip of land has been fertilized over the decades with the blood, sweat and tears of names such as Blanchard, Bradford, Gex, Logan, Wittmann and countless others.

The Rockachaws played host to the New Orleans Ramblers, an athletic club, on October 12, 1916. SSC gave the fans a lot to cheer for as they routed the Ramblers 82-0.

As football was ushered onto the campus, the nickname "Rockachaws" was introduced by Brother Macarius Pierce, as well as, more manly school colors of red and black that replaced the former pink and green combination that matched the dresses worn by dates to baseball games.

In 1915, Forster Commagere was hired as the school's first full-time lay coach. He became the school's first football coach and also coached basketball, baseball and track and field. Commagere, a former Tulane football star, is credited with the development of some of SSC's greatest athletic legends.

During the first 100 years of gridiron play, the team collected Gulf Coast Championships in 1919, 1929, 1938, 1941 and 1948. The Rocks advanced to post-season bowl games in 1938 (Toy Bowl), 1941 (Toy Bowl), 1948 (CYO Bowl), 1950 (Cypress Bowl), 1952 (Shrimp Bowl), 1975 (Jaycee Bowl), 1984 (Wendall Ladner Bowl) and 2015 (Shrimp Bowl).

In 1982, the Mississippi High School Activities Association went to a classification system built on enrollment but the Rocks chose to remain independent until 1989. SSC entered the division standings in football in 1990 and have advanced to the state playoffs in 1990, 1998, 2002-04, 2006-11 and 2012-14. They have a playoff record of 14-12 with three Division 8-4A titles (2004, 2009, 2013), two Class 4A South State championships (2009, 2014) and one Class 4A state championship (2009).

In 100 years of play, the Rocks have produced seven professional football players, five All-Americans, 24 All-State players and numerous All-Division/All-Conference players.

Over the course of a century, a tremendous amount can happen to an athletic program. There are ebbs and flows, a bell curve that displays cycles of success, as well as, cycles of difficulty. And, St. Stanislaus College is no exception.

The bell curve in football at SSC began in 1916 and took a marked path upward until about 1942 when perhaps the greatest of all legends at the school, Doc Blanchard, graduated. From there a decline of defined proportion lasted until about 1964 when Billy Murphy took over as head coach and experienced a few years of success.

The program's woes returned during the 1970s and early 1980s before another uptick presented itself during the late 1980s and very early 1990s. A brief hiccup of despair lasted until about 1996 when the program began a marked improvement up the bell curve that continues today.

During those years of great success and times of despair, many legends were created. It is here that we honor and recognize the greatest of legends of the St. Stanislaus College gridiron in an All-Century team:

n QB: Dylan Favre (Class of 2009)

n RBs: Col. Felix A. "Doc" Blanchard Jr (1942); Marchmont "Marchie" Schwartz (1927); Kris Cannon (2001)

n WRs: Stephen F. Peterman (2000); Krisjon Wilkerson (2010); Chase Rhodes (2015)

n OLs: John "Baby Grand" Scafide (class of 1929); Jordan Bradford (Class of 1985); J.C. Brignone (2006); Chris Frigo (2011); Craig Frigo (2012)

n DLs: Jordan Bradofrd (2015); Mike Meyers (1969); V.J. Gianelloni Jr (1937); Celestin J. "Pete" Taylor (1939)

n LBs: Boomer Scarborough (2010); Cameron Byrne (2001); Lee Klein (2005); JE Loiacano (1960)

n DBs: Shannon Garrett (1990); Jason Santiago (2001); Harry "Wop" Glover (1928)

n K: Juan Betanzos (1981)

n P: Scott Senner (1980)

n ATHs: Patrick McRaney (2015); Milton "Hippo" Phillips Sr (1921)

n KR/PR: Evan Lundgren (2015)

n Coach: Pierre M. "Forster" Commagere (1916-1927)

Honorable mentions: Over the course of a century, several individuals merit recognition worthy of being called the best to ever play the game. Some other individuals that have earned that designation as honorable mention selections are QB Tyler Allen (2011-13), QB Paul Gravolet (1969), RB Willys Rhodes, Jr (1954-56), RB Corey Charles (1994-96), RB Kollin Cannon (2008-10), HB Nathan Tycer (1916), RB Todd N. Thriffiley (1983-85), WR Freddie Wirstrom (1986-87), WR Aaron Dunklin (1998-99), OL Jimmy Oustalet (1968-70), OL John Jones (1966-68), OL Ryan Gibson (2011-14), ATH Bo Brennan (2009-11), DL Kevin Haas (2012-14), DL Correy Gex (1993-95), LB Jordan Ellis (2002-04), LB Eric Lichenstein (2003-05), LB Blake Morreale (2007-09), LB Brice Thomas (2008-10), DB Mike Cure (2001-04), DB Jacob Lindgren (2008-10) and P Roger Ridgeway (1997-99).

During the last 100 years of gridiron play, the Rocks have displayed the motto that Commagere gave the first team - Sincerity, Sportsmanship, Courtesy. It is these ideals that he implored his players to embody and it is the same ideals that are expected of the men that wear the red and black today. What will happen during the next 100 years? Only time will tell, but this sportswriter knows one thing for certain - See you at the game.

Joseph W. Gex, II is a staff reporter for the Sea Coast Echo who contributes to the Sun Herald.