St. Thomas More, Notre Dame rivalry spices up jamboree

LAFAYETTE — That cliché about the unimportance of jamboree outcomes doesn’t apply when St. Thomas More and Notre Dame are involved.

Just ask Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook, Jr.

When the two schools meet Thursday night at Teurlings Catholic in the second game of the parochial and private school segment of the 63rd annual Lafayette Kiwanis Jamboree, Cook said the rivalry creates an additional competitive aspect.

“It’s always been that way, even when we’ve had scrimmages (with STM),” Cook said. “You have two of the highly competitive Catholic schools in the area going against one another.”

The STM-Notre Dame contest follows the 6 p.m. opener between Opelousas Catholic and Vermilion Catholic.

Host Teurlings and Catholic High play in the final game.

STM and Notre Dame also matches two of the state’s most successful high school coaches.

STM’s Jim Hightower and Cook have a combined 665 victories. Hightower is second in all-time wins among the state’s coaches, while Cook is two wins shy of 300.

Hightower said, however, that he and Cook have enough experience to discern the true importance of Thursday game.

“I think you probably have two coaches who know that jamborees really don’t count for a whole lot,” said Hightower, who is 367-114-1 in 39 years of high school coaching. “It’s a chance, though, for each team to compete hard and take another step in the process of getting ready for the season.”

The two programs are no strangers.

STM and the Pioneers scrimmaged only last Thursday, something they have done for the past 10 seasons, Hightower said.

“We have a lot of respect for the Notre Dame program. They’re some really physical guys and Lewis (Cook) looks like he’s going to have as good a group as he’s ever had,” Hightower said.

The Lafayette jamboree has expanded to 22 teams this year and divided the event into the so-called select and nonselect schools.

On Thursday the public schools in the jamboree play at Clark Field, just a mile or two away from Teurlings.

Then Friday night, the private and parochial schools stay at Teurlings and the public schools play at Carencro.

Hightower and Cook said it’s only natural now that the parochial and private schools have their own jamboree, considering the segregated postseason format created last year by a vote of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association members.

“We (private and parochial) have been put into a playoff classification by the association as a way of separating one another,” Hightower said. “That has split us apart, so we have come together and created a jamboree game together. The Kiwanis has been fully supportive of this decision and we appreciate that.”

Cook said the two nights of jamborees at Teurlings are a unique experience statewide.

“I don’t know of any other jamboree where there are only select schools playing in the same jamboree,” Cook said. “In the old (Kiwanis) format, we played against some good teams. You always knew when you played in Lafayette over the years that you would face some good competition. There would always be a good team to get you ready for the season.

“Since we separated the jamborees, that really hasn’t changed. The good competition that you had before isn’t going to change.”

Notes

First-year Opelousas Catholic coach Dane Charpentier will compete against his brother, Roch Charpentier, who is an assistant coach at Vermilion Catholic. Dane Charpentier said his godfather was the late Dick McCloskey, whose 286 career wins at Franklin’s Hanson Memorial, ranks ninth all-time among the state’s coaches. ... The Friday night game between Westminster Christian and Lafayette Christian Academy also has somewhat of a rivalry aspect attached. Former Westminster coach Tommy Badon is a defensive assistant at Lafayette this season. Westminster first-year head coach Vinnie Bullara was an assistant under Badon for the past several seasons. ... Teurlings Catholic head coach Sonny Charpentier is the father of Dane and Roch Charpentier.