Friday night lights will shine over Zephyr Field this fall under a new agreement between the minor league club and New Orleans Catholic League football.
The partnership, unveiled today during a joint press conference at Zephyr Field, brings eight of the most anticipated high school football games to the venue next season. The inaugural game features perennial power John Curtis vs. Brother Martin on September 23. Other high profile games include Rummel vs. Holy Cross, St. Augustine vs. Holy Cross, and Brother Martin vs. Jesuit.
Augusto "Cookie" Rojas, Vice President and General Manager of the New Orleans Zephyrs, spoke at the press conference about the new partnership.
Rojas said it was one of his first priorities after coming to New Orleans this year.
"One of the big things we did in Pawtucket was to have high school football (at the baseball stadium)," he said. "One of the first orders I was given when I got here was to reach out about this."
The earliest conversations took place between Rojas and Jeff Curtis, Assistant Football Coach at John Curtis.
"It was something we had been talking about with past (Zephyrs) management for a long time," Curtis said.
"It just never seemed to work out for whatever reason."
Then when he was first approached by Rojas about the potential partnership earlier this year it was an easy sell.
"We spoke the same language," remarked Curtis. "He envisioned things that had never been done here before. Bigger and better."
That kind of excitement translated to head coaches and athletic directors across the Catholic League.
One of the biggest supporters of the agreement has been Holy Cross. Their administrators helped ease the concerns of other schools, including about playing football games on the dirt infield that will remain intact during the contests at Zephyr Field.
Holy Cross head coach Eric Rebaudo said one of the main reasons for their support was scheduling.
"The big reason was the ability to play on Friday nights," said Rebaudo.
That wasn't always the case last year, as many of the Catholic League games fell on Saturday.
"When you have to play on a Saturday then come back and play on Friday it's one less day of prep," he said.
Enthusiasm for the agreement is evident from representatives of both the Catholic League and Zephyrs. The question is now whether fans will support, and attend, these games in the fall.
WWL will cover the entire slate of eight games this fall, expanding our massive coverage of high school football in New Orleans and across Louisiana. Look for more details about our coverage of these games in the coming weeks.
The WWL Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Football Roundup can be heard each Friday night from 7:00-10:30 beginning this fall on September 9th.