Saturday night will be the renewal of one of Sacramento's enduring football rivalries when Christian Brothers plays Jesuit at Hughes Stadium.
For alumni of the two Catholic schools, the Holy Bowl is the can't-miss game of the season and produces one of the area's largest crowds, sometimes outdrawing playoff championship games.
The rivalry got a big boost in 2005 when the Falcons tied the Marauders 19-19 under then first-year coach Andre Johansen. Interest had started to wane somewhat because Jesuit had won 11 of the 12 previous contests, often by blowouts.
Last season's game, won 21-6 by Jesuit, drew one of the game's largest crowds in recent memory with estimates as high as 13,000, although Jesuit athletic director Ron Nocetti said paid attendance was closer to 11,000.
"Still, it was one of the biggest attended games we've had in at least the last eight years," he said.
The Holy Bowl has special significance for Jesuit coach Dan Carmazzi, now in his 27th season.
He was Christian Brothers' backup quarterback in the first meeting between the two schools in 1969, a 20-13 Falcons win at American River College in front of more than 11,000 fans.
"There were so many people sitting on the grass that it was like ants on an ant hill," Carmazzi said.
The next season, Carmazzi, now the starting quarterback, was on the short end of an 8-7 upset, as Jesuit reserve quarterback Dano McGinn scored the winning two-point conversion run.
"It was the last game of the season for both of us, and we were both league champions," Carmazzi said. "They had one loss and we were undefeated. It took away from our dream season. It's something you always remember."
At one point Jesuit trailed in the series 10-4-1, a gap that might have been smaller if the playoffs hadn't forced the Holy Bowl's cancellation in 1977 and 1978 when future NFL quarterback Ken O'Brien was flinging passes for the Marauders.
Carmazzi was on the losing end of five consecutive Holy Bowl games at the start of his head coaching career at Jesuit. Since then, the Marauders have gone 16-4-1.
But Christian Brothers is looking more competitive these days, and Carmazzi said that Falcons' star quarterback Asa Jackson will be a handful to try to contain.
But win or lose, both teams and schools will be into it.
"This is a game with rivalries everywhere, from the cheering section to the boosters," said Sierra College coach Jeff Tisdel - 6-0 in his Holy Bowl stint as CBS coach from 1980-85 - in a previous Bee interview. "It's loud, it's noisy, it's enthusiastic. It's just a high-emotional football game for everybody."
- Bill Paterson