“Guys have come up to the school and said `Coach, I played in ’71 and we beat Amat. Or they’ll come up and say that they played and tell me about the game that they played in against Amat. I’ve heard a lot about it. One of my good friends, Eric Bieniemy, was a legendary player (at Amat). I’m a USC alum and Pat Haden is a USC alum and he was there (at Amat) and did some great things.” – St. Paul coach Elijah Asante on renewing the storied rivalry between Amat and St. Paul on the 20th anniversary of Amat’s 1992 undefeated season and title.
By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
St. Paul High School football coach Elijah Asante might be new to the whole Bishop Amat-St. Paul rivalry, but friends and Swordsmen alumni are certainly helping the first-year coach make up for lost time this week.
“Guys have come up to the school and said `Coach, I played in ’71 and we beat Amat,”‘ Asante said. “Or they’ll come up and say that they played and tell me about the game that they played in against Amat. I’ve heard a lot about it.
“One of my good friends, Eric Bieniemy, was a legendary player (at Amat). I’m a USC alum and Pat Haden is a USC alum and he was there (at Amat) and did some great things.”
The teams will renew their rivalry on Friday night at Bishop Amat.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. and the Lancers will recognize the 20th anniversary of the 1992 team’s accomplishments at halftime.
As for ruining the party, Asante and his Swordsmen (1-2) caught a break last Friday when Amat (3-0-1) receiver Darren Andrews was ejected for fighting against Charter Oak and has to serve a mandatory one-game suspension. That opens the door slightly for the underdog Swordsmen who have one less weapon to worry about.
“When you get a break, you accept a break,” Asante said of Andrews sitting out. “That kid is so good. I don’t know if we had an answer for him. That’s how good he is.
“When he was in the brawl and it came out that they ejected him, I wasn’t going to go down there and protest and say `No, no, we play them next week.”‘
In addition to Andrews being out, the Lancers may also be without running back Dionza Blue, who suffered a shoulder injury against Charter Oak.
Without Andrews and Blue, Amat would be at a severe disadvantage. But quarterback Koa Haynes can do special things and receiver Joseph Cook is sitting on a breakout game.
St. Paul hasn’t lived up to the hype this season. The Swordsmen got a bevy of high-impact transfers, but lost their first two games to La Mirada and Mater Dei. St. Paul picked up its first win of the season in Week 2 against La Habra and had last week off to rest up for Amat.
The time off probably served Swordsmen running back Kurt Scoby well after he began the season with a strained groin and was taken to the hospital after the La Habra game because of dehydration. Asante said Scoby will be fully healthy for Friday’s game.
“He’s good to go,” Asante said of Scoby. “The bye week absolutely helped. We had some guys who were banged up and it gave them two weeks to recover. It came at just the right time for us. We played some really physical teams.”
As for beating Amat, Asante said that has more to do with his own team than the Lancers.
“It’s not really about Amat, it’s about us,” Asante said. “Of course we respect them and we’ve broken down film on them, but we have to do what we have to do. If we master what we’re supposed to do, then we expect to win.”