By ERIC X. VICCARO
The “Old Settlement Showdown” is here, the yearly regular-season game between Ste. Genevieve and Valle Catholic.
It’s the most anticipated game of the year. Fans, parents and even the football players themselves circle the date on their calendars. Valle Catholic has a 31-26 edge in one of the longest-running game series in the Show-Me State.
“This week’s ball game is all about the players,” said Valle Catholic head coach Judd Naeger. “All of these young men on both teams have worked very hard to play football.”
Naeger said of the commitment to practice, and how this sport is filled with delayed gratification, the community should equally celebrate the Warriors and Dragons.
Especially since both teams are coming off convincing Week One victories, with Ste. Genevieve earning a hard-fought 36-31 victory over Festus and Valle Catholic pasting Skyline, 50-14, a four-hour drive away in Urbana.
“It provides another test against a great opponent,” said Jay Pope, in his first year as the Dragons’ skipper. “Valle was able to beat (Class 3 state champion) Blair Oaks last season and proved they can compete at the highest level — regardless of classification.”
Pope said the Dragons are eagerly awaiting the litmus test the game versus Valle Catholic will provide.
“Valle is Valle,” Pope continued,” they’ll run whatever they need to in order to win the game, which makes it hard to prepare for them. You never know what you’re going to get.”
Naeger said he expects the Dragons to run a spread offense and multiple formations on defense out of an odd-man front.
“They are very good at both of these, and played a great game versus Festus in all aspects,” Naeger explained.
Both coaches chimed in on the keys to victory.
“The keys to the game will be turnovers and just making big plays,” Naeger said. “Whichever team can execute the best and make the big plays will come out on top.”
“I think the key for this game is always just going out an executing,” Pope said. “This match-up always has an extra layer of excitement and expectations.”
Pope said some players — and even coaches — may push too hard to do too much instead of staying on task with a specific assignment.