Patriotism Bowl


Photography Credit to Terri Harof

Every Friday during the Fall, the Blessed Trinity football team puts on their pads, laces up their cleats, and does what they practice so doggedly to do: leave it all out on the football field. Fundamentally, this Friday, September 10th was no different. However, that Friday’s game had a much bigger meaning than simply who wins and who loses.

Blessed Trinity was given the opportunity to play in the tenth annual Patriotism Bowl, hosted by Charlotte Catholic High School, located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Patriotism Bowl is sponsored by the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, whose website describes it as a “college bowl-like atmosphere which raises awareness of citizenship, patriotism, and service while raising money for patriotic non-profit organizations.” Additionally, the event being held on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the horrible September 11th attacks added extra significance to the patriotism displayed throughout the evening. The bowl is also a great opportunity for players to be recruited, especially because of “the prestige of the schools and the prestige of Georgia football vs. North Carolina football,” according to Coach Price.

The three buses containing the players, coaches, and cheerleaders (and one journalist) departed from Blessed Trinity at 9:35 A.M. At noon, the buses stopped for lunch at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, SC, who so graciously provided their football bleachers as an area for us to eat and their football field for the players to get some final preparations in. Finally, the buses arrived at Charlotte Catholic High School (CCHS) at 3:00 P.M. The players had Mass in the school chapel, ate dinner, and then began warmups around 6:05 P.M.

The atmosphere at the game was unrivaled by any other high school football game. CCHS filled their bleachers completely, and Blessed Trinity had an impressive number of supporters considering the two schools are 255 miles apart. CCHS’ student section was electric, all of them ready for a clash of, no pun intended, football titans. Although they were outnumbered, the BT cheerleaders matched their energy, cheering on the Titans all evening.

The pregame ceremonies began at 7 P.M. when an AS350 helicopter (one of only 35 of its kind) began its descent onto the field. The highly exquisite chopper brought a highly exquisite football player, former Carolina Panther linebacker, and future Hall of Famer Luke Keuchly. After dropping Keuchly off, the helicopter took four current servicemen over 9,000 feet into the air to perform a skydiving exhibition. The four servicemen have nearly 15,000 jumps combined, and they all proved that by perfectly executing their jumps at the game, earning an ovation from the crowd. Finally, the national anthem was played by the CCHS band, the coin was flipped by Keuchly, and the tenth annual Patriotism Bowl began.

The game started off with a bang, as Evan Dickens returned the opening kickoff 68 yards, giving BT great field position for their first drive. BT was able to capitalize with a five-play, 32-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown catch from Mavrick Torrico. CCHS answered back on their second drive of the game, going 81 yards on 10 plays to tie the game at seven. BT running back, Justice Haynes, then took matters into his own hands, busting off a 74-yard touchdown run, in which he broke multiple CCHS tackles. CCHS drilled a field goal late into the first half to send the game to halftime, BT leading 14-10.

The turning point in the game came in the middle of the 3rd quarter. Following a Haynes two-yard TD run, BT forced a three and out from Charlotte’s offense. The snap on the punt was high and bounced off the CCHS punter’s hands. After a scramble for the ball, BT recovered at the CCHS 10 yard line. BT quarterback JC French then lobbed a ball up to junior receiver Cole Weaver, who made an acrobatic catch over the CCHS defender in the end zone, giving the Titans a commanding 18 point lead. The score would remain that way for the rest of the game, resulting in a final score of Blessed Trinity: 28 and Charlotte Catholic: 10.

After the game, Coach Hall explained what it says about BT to be able to respond to two straight losses in that fashion. He started by praising the Charlotte football team, saying, “this is a really good football team that we came up here and played, they are just solid all the way around.” He admitted that consecutive losses for the Titans was essentially “uncharted territory,” but he believes that as a result of this game, BT is “starting to hit [their] stride, figure out who [they] really are.”

Although it is delightful that Blessed Trinity was able to emerge victorious, the more important thing is that the goal of the whole bowl was accomplished. The event invoked patriotism from everyone in attendance and provided unity in the face of a day that will bring back very tough memories for many Americans.