25 Teams in 25 Days: St. Patrick Fighting Irish
As St. Patrick Catholic High School continues to grow in size, so does its football program. It’s all a numbers game for the Fighting Irish who have some new neighbors this season and a new post-season standard at stop number 20 on News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days.
Wide receiver/ corner back Blake Bratton said, “You’ve got a few more followers and a few more fans that are going to come out and support. You’ve got everybody that wants to come see us succeed, other than just family members. And I feel like there’s just a different feeling around the field that’s just like, we’re going to win.”
St. Patrick has come a long way from its 23-game losing streak, spanning from 2015 to 2017 to a program that’s won at least three games per year from 17 to now. “Ever since that 0-23 drought, as soon as we won – or they won – that first game, I feel like there was a flip of tides with that cause it was like, we can win now. We’ve learned how to win. So, I feel like ever since then, we’ve just been able to really tear it up on the field.”
Last season, the Fighting Irish went 3-6 overall, 1-3 in district play. However, North Forrest did opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, leaving the four seed in region 8 class 2A up for grabs no matter what. Athlete Kaleb Chatman said, “It gave us a big step. It gave us motivation that we want to be there. Not just them giving it to us, we want it now.”
St. Patrick’s date to the dance was Scott Central, who won the 2A state crown as recently as 2018. Certainly, no shame in the 44-0 end result that gave the Irish a bittersweet taste of what they now want some more of. Running back/ middle linebacker/ kicker Jameson Thriffiley said, “Oh, we are very hungry. We’ve been there once; we want to do it again. We don’t ever want to stop going to the playoffs anymore.”
“We just want to make it, make a run for it. They hit us in the mouth, and we want blood now.”
“I learned that no matter what, if we’re up 44-0 or we’re down 44-0, we’re going to compete, no matter what.”
Head Coach Trey Bailey said, “We’re able to compete at a fairly high level. We’d like to grow on that, and kind of see where that goes from there. Of course, that’s going to be tough going into a new region, but that’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. The boys are excited.”
For the first time since 2016, St. Patrick now occupies the ranks of region 8 class 3A where the road trips might be a little closer, but the road to success might be a little harder. “Well, we usually have history between these teams and usually we know what to expect, and now it’s just a whole new ball game. So, we’ve got to re-learn everything, got to put in much more work.”
“There’s going to be a little bit better competition, and we’re going to have to fight every day to get to that level of expectations to move up into that region.”
As the hallways grow more crowded during school hours, the football field is following the same trend with the program having almost doubled in size grades seventh through 12 in less than three years’ time. What used to be 46 is now 86 and all of a sudden, the Irish have some depth with 11 returning starters and eight seniors, four of which are four-year starters, ready to bring a little more fight to the Irish. “Most of us have been four-year starters for this, so we’ve got to leave our mark. Brought in new people. It’s great having 40-plus people out here that actually want to play football.”
“These seniors want to lead the guys to the playoffs. They’re going to have to work hard to get there, but I trust these eight guys, and we’ll see what happens.”
The Fighting Irish will have a new look on Fridays this season, doing away with the SP on the helmets to go with an all gold like that of Notre Dame.
St. Patrick kicks off the 2021 season at rival Sacred Heart on August 27th in the Battle for Bishop’s Bell.