Marist, St. Pius X renew intense rivalry

St. Pius X coach Paul Standard’s hype game is in excellent form heading into tonight’s showdown with archrival Marist.

Some examples:

  • “They (Marist) don’t need to get fired up. They look like the second coming of the Green Bay Packers.”
  • “They’re ‘ginormous,’ and we’re small and slow.”
  • “We have deceptive speed – we’re slower than we look.”

LOL.

Standard’s assessment, while slightly exaggerated, rings true in a lot of ways – Marist has been impressive this season. The War Eagles (6-0) have shut out three of their last four opponents, allowing only a second-half touchdown run to Lithonia in last week’s 33-6 win. Senior quarterback Sam Phelts has been solid orchestrating the Marist wishbone. The offensive line has shined, and the secondary has been a surprise, coach Alan Chadwick said. But what the War Eagles haven’t had a lot of, though, is competitive games. That could be an issue against a battle-tested St. Pius squad.

“I’m not worried about our conditioning,” Chadwick said. “But I am concerned that they’ve had some tougher games than us.”

The Golden Lions (3-2) have bounced back from an 0-2 with three straight wins. Their losses came against Blessed Trinity (42-20), No. 3 in Class AAA, and Woodward Academy (42-21), No. 7 in Class AAAA. St. Pius slugged out a 31-28 win over Grady and held on in the second half last week against Columbia in a 34-20 win.

While the experience on being in those tough games may pay dividends, they also proved costly.

“We’ve had more injuries this season than I can ever remember,” Standard said. “We lost two more kids this week. We couldn’t get on Noah’s Ark right now, because we don’t have two of anything. We don’t have two guards, two tackles or two of anything else.”

But, as Standard puts it, they’ve already rented a bus, so they might as well make the trip over to Marist for the renewal of one of Atlanta’s top rivalries. The two teams haven’t met since 2009, but resume their rivalry this year, with St. Pius joining Marist is Region 6-AAAA.

“It a very intense rivalry,” Chadwick said. “It’s good to get the blood flowing around here.”

St. Pius won the last two meetings, in 2008 and 2009, but Marist leads the series 30-15-3, according to Georgia High School Football Historians Association.