The Warriors have a chance to make history again.
Last season, the football team from Our Lady of Lourdes High School won the first Section 1 Class B title in program history, having first won its league championship.
A win against visiting Pleasantville (5-1 overall, 4-1 league) on Friday will give Lourdes (5-1, 4-1) a second straight league title, as well as the top seed in the sectional tournament.
“We want to do better — as well, if not better — than we did last year,” said senior running back Bryce Gioia, whose Warriors have already locked up at least the No. 2 spot in the playoffs. “It’s always expectations. We made a name for ourselves, and we want to keep it.”
Though he sat out last week’s 22-17 win over visiting Nanuet due to what his coach termed “a slight concussion” sustained the week before, wide receiver Christian Keenan is expected to return Friday to boost Lourdes’ chance of writing this newest chapter in its success story.
Brian Walsh took over a 4-4 team when he became Lourdes’ head coach prior to the 2010 season. Since then, he’s led the team to a 25-7 overall record, including last season’s 9-1 mark.
Under Walsh, Lourdes has also reached the Section 1 title game the past two seasons, including last November’s historic win over Pleasantville in the sectional championship.
Just 48 minutes away from another league title, though, Walsh said his Warriors don’t feel the weight of trying to repeat. This Lourdes squad, the coach said, is different than that 2012 team, with several players in new positions, though the success is similar.
“I don’t think it was pressure; I really don’t think it’s pressure, no,” Walsh said. “We’re still kind of scrambling around, trying to, some of these kids are trying to learn the game, learn their position, just get comfortable out there on the field. I don’t think we feel any pressure. Maybe a couple of the older kids — someone like Bryce, maybe, or Christian — but I don’t think so.”
Instead of feeling weighed down by the expectation of repeating as league champs, the Warriors look at this season — and Friday, in particular — as an opportunity to continue playing the brand of football that’s made them successful.
If that leads Lourdes to another title, he said, all the better.
“I think they’re just going out, trying to have fun, trying to play hard and hoping for the best,” Walsh said. “They know that we’re a very different team this year. We can’t run the ball like we did last year, but we sure can throw it.”
Sophomore quarterback Dean Rotger said while he and the Warriors know the expectations some outside the program have placed on them, he’s confident Lourdes can defend its league championship.
“There’s always pressure,” Rotger said, “but I think we’re a good enough to team to come out, to work and get that again.”