They had a good season the year before.
Jeff Major, brothers Rusty and Steve Guerin, Moe Battley, Jack Palmer.
A winning season, the quarterfinals of the Class 1-A playoffs.
Larry Strate, Chris Tunstall, Glenn Lejeune, Allen Roy, Matt Frey.
But the 1978 season for Catholic High of Pointe Coupee started strong and gained momentum each week.
Keith Jarreau, Ray Neck, Bryan Duhe, Kevin Banks, George LaCour.
Culled from the reporting in The Pointe Coupee Banner that year, the stories told of how the momentum continued to build until a rainy night at Bernie Moore Stadium at LSU.
And a state championship. A 14-1 season. A place in school history.
In 1977, coach Jim Hightower directed Catholic High of Pointe Coupee to an 8-2 year, but the season ended in the quarterfinals as the Green Hornets, as The Banner called them, fell to eventual state champion St Mary’s 33-2 in Natchitoches.
So, when the 1978 season began for Catholic High, “optimistic” was the word in stories before the first kickoff.
Week by week the wins piled up. In its first five games, Catholic High allowed only two touchdowns. By the end of the regular season, the defense had given up only 37 points.
When the Green Hornets topped St. John 35-6 to be 4-0, they were ranked No. 7 in the sportswriters’ poll. A 36-0 shutout of Delcambre moved them to No. 5. A 21-13 win over St. Edmund saw Catholic High move up to No. 3.
Catholic High stood 7-0 when it faced Southern Lab in what was reported as the game to decide the District 4-1A title. The Kittens did what no other team would do in 1978. They defeated the Green Hornets 20-0, the only time they were held scoreless.
Catholic High won its last two games to be 9-1 as it opened the playoffs against St. Mary’s, getting revenge with a 40-13 victory.
From there, the playoffs mirrored the regular season, with defeats of Alma Brown (19-0), Sicily Island (24-22) and West St. John (6-0). Catholic High faced St. Edmund again in the state finals.
Game day was Friday, Dec. 13.
It had been declared Green Hornet Day in New Roads and the parish. A community pep rally was held at 11:30 a.m. in front of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
The game did not open well for Catholic High in the rain.
Held on its first possession, the punt snap went over Duhe’s head, but he picked up the ball and ran it out of the endzone, giving up 2 points rather than a possible touchdown to St. Edmund.
For the next three quarters, that was the only highlight for the Blue Jays.
Catholic High’s scoring spree began when Major completed a 48-yard pass to Battley to the Blue Jay 7, where the quarterback scored the game’s first touchdown.
Frey then recovered a St. Edmund fumble and Mark Hurst scored on a 49-yard run. The Hornets led 12-2.
On their next possession, the Blue Jays fumbled again. Strate recovered it. Rusty Guerin scored on an 11-yard run. Major completed a 2-point conversion pass to Battley and Catholic High was up 20-2.
Battley added to the lead with his third interception of the playoffs, returning it 55 yards for a touchdown.
The first-half scoring spree continued when Steve Guerin scored on a 43-yard run and Catholic High led 32-2 at the half.
Hurst scored his second touchdown in the third quarter on a 24-yard run to build a 38-2 lead.
St. Edmund finally got a touchdown for a 38-9 game, but Battley had one more play, a 51-yard end-around for the Hornets’ last touchdown. The Blue Jays scored again in the fourth quarter, but by then the game was decided, 45-16.
Battley was named the game MVP, having scored a touchdown on both offense and defense.
Post-season honors came to several Hornets.
Larry Strate, named to the All-State team at linebacker, was also selected as the Class 1-A Outstanding Defensive Player.
Glenn LeJeune made the All-State team at offensive tackle and Allen Roy was selected as an offensive guard. Moe Battley made All-State as a defensive back and Bryan Duhe as the kicker.