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Rivalries Keep the Wheels Turning



Last week the biggest rivalry in the State hit the battlefield via the Governor’s Cup at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Fans talked trash on the radio, through Twitter and Facebook, and to each others’ faces. There was an entire day dedicating to Hating Louisville. Fans trekked through the rain and paid hundreds of dollars for tickets to watch a football game. What is it that stirs people’s emotions and creates a rivalry as big as the one in our state?


In order to see why rivalries mean so much to the people involved, we have to look at one that is much smaller, where people don’t care as much in the outside world because they don’t understand why it is such a big deal. Last Friday I went home to watch my rivalry unfold: DeSales vs. Holy Cross. These Catholic schools have a combined enrollment around 500, but it does not take away from the nasty taste that one gets in the mouth after playing in this game.

This pic comes from a 1999 meeting between DeSales and Holy Cross. Yes they had color photos then, but not in yearbooks where you find old pictures.



Many people consider this game “The Battle for Dixie Highway”, with the winner owning bragging rights in South Louisville. Being the best around, is deeply engrained into kids since they started playing against or with each other in CSAA (Catholic Schools Athletic Association) competition starting in 3rd grade. The CSAA is the most hard fought competition you will find in sports. To this day I will see someone that I remembered playing against back in the day. Players will be friends with the guys they are playing against, or they will down right hate them because they lost to that person in a Toy Bowl. The guys that I lost to in the Toy Bowl my 8th grade year, were my high school teammates and some of my best friends. The guys I played with in middle school, turned out to be playing across from me each year when I played Holy Cross.


It’s not just the players that know each other well, it’s also the coaches. My little brother Nathan is DeSales’ starting QB this year. Three coaches on the Holy Cross bench coached him in grade school. My high school DLine coach traded sides last year and now is loud mouth on the bad guys sideline. The head coaches share history in the rivalry as well. DeSales 1st year coach Harold Davis beat the old Bishop David a couple of times during his run as one of DeSales’ greatest Defensive Backs. Holy Cross’ Todd Crumbacher is in his 1st year of coaching his alma mater, where he helped pound DeSales many times in the early 2000s. If you think they don’t want to win as bad as the players, you’re wrong.


Whenever competition happens between someone you are familiar with, you will do anything it takes to beat them. My next door neighbor Luke Simmons will still brag about giving my St. Paul Raiders our only basketball loss my 8th grade year, just like I won’t ever let him forget about the 3 I hit in his eye or the fact that we beat them in the Championship game. That emotion makes rivalries special, and leads the players and fans to do crazy things. Students paint up and shave mohawks in their hair, parents arrive 2 hours before to tailgate, and if you’re an alumni it is the one game of the year that you make sure to go to.


When they finally throw the ball on the field, it isn’t just a game anymore. Unless one team is just that good (like my 2009 team that won 47-0), emotion is going to make the game close NO MATTER WHAT (you will see). Players talk trash on the line before the snap, they boast more than they would in any other game, and they will start a fight over the most minute things. They will commit stupid penalties and make dumb, immature decisions (I played in 2008 with a broken back. I didn’t know it was broken, but I did whatever I had to do to play in that game). These emotions make for the most exhilarating experience you can have in sports.


Nathan Roush takes a snap for the Colts offense in the 2012 edition of the rivalry. (c/o Erica Henley)


This year was a perfect example of a great rivalry. DeSales entered the game #2 in 2A and heavily favored (Frakes gave them a 21 point spread) to beat Holy Cross for the 5th time in 6 years. Holy Cross only dressed 30 kids, with many of them being freshman, compared to a 60 man DeSales squad. DeSales had just played a hell of a ball-game against 3A powerhouse Central, and was prepared to keep the wheels turning.


Then the emotion that comes with a rivalry was let loose as soon as the ball was kicked off. Dominique Mack of Holy Cross returned the opening kick for a touchdown, putting the Holy Cross side into a frenzy and leaving DeSales fans saying “Whaaaaaaat?” From there, the game was a classic knock down drag em out rivalry game. Penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct hindered drives; players were either timid or too overzealous; nobody could get a leg up in a back and forth brawl.


After Nathan Roush’s touchdown to Lucas Schwieckhart with 4 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, DeSales seemed to be pulling away. However Holy Cross charged right back down the field to make it 21-16 with 46 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. Holy Cross just wouldn’t give up, despite players being ran to death playing both sides of the ball. That all ended in the 4th quarter after Roush took a QB keeper 55 yards to the end zone. The Colts began to physically tear apart Holy Cross, forcing 3 and outs before DeSales Dylan Byrd put it out of reach with 2 long touchdowns. Byrd’s 169 yards and 4 touchdowns along with Roush’s 150 yards of offense and 2 touchdowns were just too much for the Cougars, with the final score 42-16.


Now that may be just another 2A vs. 1A game in Louisville to most of you, but for the South End of Louisville it means much, much more. Catholic school enrollment is at an all-time low. Starting in 2005, 10 schools have merged into 3, with St. Paul as the only parish-school left in the tight knit community. Holy Cross has taken the biggest hit from this and as families leave the area, it leaves question marks for the future. This game not only keeps the doors open for both schools, but it gets families back to the South End. No matter who wins, the South End community is the biggest winner of them all.



Holy Cross and DeSales truly emulate everything that goes into being a rival. You may hate Louisville and Rick Pitino, but when you need your fellow Kentuckian’s support it will always be there. The South End rivalry helps the schools stay afloat, whilst the Governor’s Cup launched Louisville into what is now a football program that has won a BCS Bowl Game and has a 55,000 stadium. Without rivalries I probably wouldn’t even have this job. Rivalries don’t just give us something or somebody to hate, they provide us with stability and growth in our very unstable world.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

60 Comments for Rivalries Keep the Wheels Turning

  1. Jed
    8:07 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Why am I supposed to care about a single word in this post? Maybe it got good but I stopped reading when I realized the guy that wrote this thinks we care about holy cross and I can’t remember.

  2. Garbage Truck Man
    8:09 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Why? What does this have to do with the University of Kentucky? All of these selfless plugs are great to show to friends and family or your brother, but this is a site about the University of Kentucky.

  3. KentuckyHouse
    8:14 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Gotta agree with #1. Why do I care about Louisville HS football? I don’t even give two rat’s asses about LOUISVILLE (the city), what makes you think I’d care about some high school rivalry that I’ve never heard of? Hope mommy and daddy are proud of this useless post.

  4. Yesterdays
    8:15 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    The south end- Home of L raisers, line beards, and muscle cars with tires worth more than the actual car.
    I’d rather live in Karen Sypher’s jail cell than live anywhere near Dixie Dieway.

  5. SexnNursinHomes
    8:16 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    I would never put my hands near any man’s ass or ballsack. Gross.

  6. TheTruth
    8:18 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Youre gonna get punched around a bit as this has no good reason for being on this site.

    That said…love my Colts. Would love to see us win state. But seeing my wife…a Holy Cross grad…get pissy when I told her the score was good enough for me.

    Desales High
    Desales High
    we sing our proud refrain.
    the men of the brown and white will once again bring fame.

  7. spookykim
    8:22 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with #2. Do you think we care about some rich, private high school rivalry?! You could have only sickened me more with talks of the great St.X & Triniity rivalry. Big whoop! Everybody drives their daddy’s Lexus & BMW’s to the game & tailgates with wine coolers — BARF! Get over yourself & write about UK!

  8. Bob Beatty
    8:26 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    #7-Trinity 3rd best football team in the state (behind U of L and WKU)

  9. Good Post
    8:26 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Believe it or not I was playing for DeSales when that picture was taken, though I’m not any of the players shown. Good post, don’t worry about the turds who whine about not caring. It isn’t like you’re forced to read it. lol

  10. Capt Obvious
    8:28 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    No one made anyone read the post. Ill never understand disliking something, then spending 15 minutes b#$&@ about not liking it. . .

    I have friends that attended and player for Holy Cross. Good post. And I like the Kentucky comments. We have the best state. Its just the morons that make us all look bad.


  11. Raider/Cougar
    8:35 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Nice job Nick. To this day, I still don’t think he got that shot off. Go Raiders and Go Cougars

  12. scott
    8:43 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    hey not all southenders are u of l fans go colts hell yeah i graduated from there good article nick some people are jsut jealous they arent frotunate enough to write for ksr

  13. Colonel Cat
    8:47 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    #7 Obviously you have never been to a St. X Trinity tailgate. I am a proud alumnus of St. Xavier and that game is the single best high school rivalry in the nation. Your jealousy is pathetic, and just because you couldn’t go to either of those fine schools doesn’t give you the right to judge the schools and the students that go there. Finally, this game has great tailgating for a high school game. Sure it doesn’t give the Grove at Ole Miss a run for its money, but no high school does. It doesn’t matter where you go to school, all that matters is the atmosphere. Sorry you couldn’t go to either of the two of the best athletic an academic schools in America.Have a blessed day, sir

  14. kes
    8:48 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    who gives a ish about a bunch of silver spoon brats who play in a meaningless high school game?

  15. Colonel Cat
    8:52 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    #14 you mean those silver spooned brats that dominate every other school in Kentucky? I’m 19 and I’m more mature than you. Why don’t you stop calling high school kids who are more fortunate than others “brats” and grow up? God Bless

  16. Bluehaze
    8:54 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Wasted space….tell us about the turnip crop in Hart county!!

  17. maxgwenuk
    8:57 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    DeSales class of 94 great story about a great rivalry.
    Can the big D fight HELL YEAH!!!

  18. Rock Me I'm Matt Davis
    9:01 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    A lot of the folks who attend Holy Cross and DeSales are not of the Silver Spoon variey. The Southend is moreso made up of blue collar, hard working folks who give all they have for their kids to go to these schools. There is a rivalry and I am a grad of Holy Cross, but the Southend is better off because of these schools. The sense of community that is built around them is wonderful and it always gives me pride to see their names mentioned in “the big time.”

    Thanks for writing this post for us old South End boys!

  19. DeSales87
    9:01 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Lighten up, haters.
    We all had/have our rivalries, be it high school, college, or just the jerks across the field in the Catholic Softball Beer League. The post brought back some good memories.
    We may have our own schools or rivals or memories, but we all share the same feelings.
    Well done, Nick.
    Go Colts!
    Go Cats!

  20. joseph starks
    9:03 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    #7 you obviously know nothing about st x or trinity. Its people like you that keep them the best schools in the state because your jealousy and immaturity completely overshadows any intelligence you may have, making Trinity and St. X look better again. Great job making yourself look like an idiot. I think that might have been YOUR high school experience because actually if you look at eastern and ballard there are a lot more rich kids at those schools. Compare the parking lots you will see. All the eastern kids come from Polo Fields and Lake Forest and all the Ballard kids come from Wolf Creek and Falls Creek.

  21. paul
    9:03 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    At least the St.X – Trinity rivalry doesn’t consist of two teams that frankly aren’t very good. This is one of the more head scratching posts on KSR I’ve seen. A long, excessive rant about two small private schools in the South End of Louisville who have a rivalry that no one outside the SOuth End really cares about, and neither team is or really ever has been very good at all. I get it, it means a lot to the writer, but it doesn’t really mean anything to hardly any of the readers so not sure your point. Thanks, I guess.

  22. FurdTurgason
    9:07 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    This is wild. I actually covered this game for the CJ. Holy Cross put up a good fight but DeSales just had them outmanned. I made sure I put that in the lead.

  23. Wtf
    9:09 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Who the fk cares. Wow. Next up, the biggest preschool spelling b in taylor county!

  24. alan lemke
    9:13 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    i played in every Holy Cross-Desales game that i was in high school for…..grantd im sure if i went to St. X or Trinity I would have had different thoughts about this but since im a graduate of Holy Cross(2002) i really appreciated this. I played my heart out in every game and can still remember the feeling i had when we lost to Desales. However, my senior year we played in a monsoon type atmosphere at Cardinal Stadium on the turf and won that game 24-0. Thank u for this blast from the past for i will always remember my days on the football field and as a Holy Cross Cougar

  25. thewaitfor8
    9:15 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    From a DeSales grad, I enjoyed reading this, but I can understand why people might wonder why it is on the site. With that said, every DeSales grad or HCHS grad reading the comments has to be laughing when they see the suggestions that we were a bunch of rich kids. Silver spoon brats! HA! My dad worked 60 plus hours a week so that I could go to a Catholic school in Louisville like he did and have a chance at a decent education in Louisville. Not that there aren’t a couple good public schools in Louisville.

    If we are looking for a UK connection here, there are 4 student managers on the football team from DeSales.

  26. westernky
    9:16 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    I didn’t like this post. Not because it wasn’t UK related specifically, but because i don’t care about Northern Kentucky high school football. These northern teams are the most known schools in the state and for good reason, but that doesn’t mean that the entirety of the KSR readership gives two craps about it. Write about the Mayfield/Tilghman rivalry if you want because i know that, that’s where Im from. But that wouldnt be any better because the other 3/4 of the state wouldn’t care. all these people in the comments act like this rivalry is something special. Its not special, its just as unique as any other rivalry in the state. This post isn’t deserving to be placed on KSR. its fine writing, but the topic is off base from the reason i come to this site and i feel like im a reading journal entry from a middle schooler about his school.

  27. Hbk6161
    9:19 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    SMH. I feel like this is bizarro KSR day.

  28. Huh?
    9:20 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Get your sh*t straight, most of us dont live in Lex or Lousville. KSR is world wide b*tch. We could care less who you consider the biggest rivalry. To each their own, but BIG isn’t always quantified in raw numbers.

  29. Hazard class A champs
    9:31 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    You people are a damn bunch of cry babies. Hell I live in Hazard and know how big the ST. X and Trinity rivalry is. For UK to be good they need to get more players out of Jefferson County.

  30. Drew
    9:37 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    No one outside of Dixie Highway cares about these teams. Hope you enjoyed spending a solid afternoon writing about something 100 people read

  31. bige
    9:39 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Nice rivalry story that made me think about a lot of topics, the change of South end of Louisville and especially from a religious and economic perspective. The industries that fueled the population of these areas are still alive but their blood cells are on foreign lands.

    Both of these schools were once state powerhouses in the biggest class (Holy Cross was the result of a merger between all male and all female Catholic high school in the 80s and once had close to a 1000 students) but now they can barely get kids on the field.
    Similar stories throughout the state especially where textile jobs were lost.

  32. Trinity
    9:44 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    No one gives a shit about DeSales or Holy Cross haha. Both schools have irrelevant athletic programs.

  33. Patrick_Wren
    9:44 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    If you want to see “real High School Football” you’ll need to come on down to the Lone Star state. These folks take this very serious….. Friday Night Lights anyone?

  34. Big Cat
    9:47 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    #7, #30 Boo Hoo – I don’t live in Louisville and don’t understand the rivalries, so I am going to get mad at a good read.

  35. I Say
    10:13 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Yawnnnn…Holy Cross is a weak little 2A school who hasnt been good in almost ten years.

  36. Billy
    10:27 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Knibb High football rules!!!!!!!!

  37. shields eyes
    10:41 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    I swear if I see another useless post on this website I am going to cancel my subscription.

  38. Danny DeTalente
    10:41 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Yea I dont think Harold Davis made all-state but Mark Sander did and he is DeSales all-time wins leader as a coach. Whom they screwed over! Harold Davis will be gone in 2yrs

  39. gr8ness
    11:08 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    The difference between Desales, Holy Cross vs Trinity, St. x is the two Dixie hwy schools can’t recruit the way the big schools do. I would much rather watch two schools doing it the right way.

  40. Yesterdays
    11:56 pm September 10, 2012 Permalink

    Trinity and St. X also have a different set of rules for practicing. Most states have private schools in an entirely different league than the private schools for precisely this reason. How do you think Trinity all of a sudden got good in basketball??? Its called recruiting, and other schools simply cant do it.

    Besides, I love seeing and hearing Trinity and St. X grads talk about that football game like its a national treasure. Its hilarious. Most didnt even play football or basketball. #highschoolisover

  41. Good Post Sir
    12:36 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Finally the CSAA peeps with a little bit of rep on KSR. Kiss my Toy Bowl rings, bitches.

  42. CatCaptain16
    12:48 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Another nice article that is well written and thought out. Great job Nick. Go Colts

  43. James Seawright
    1:14 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    # 25 is my son for Desales in that picture…..great memories….great times……Coach Harold Joyce name that team…Above the rest…and they were , for what it’s worth Thank you for the article..

  44. lambinated
    1:27 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Looking forward to the riveting coverage of the KY middle school teeball tournament. Truly a rivalry for the ages that brings us all together as a species.

  45. jill
    1:35 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    #5 what about your mouth?

  46. JRupp
    1:38 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Turning KSR into the Kentucky-based Grantland for much less interesting topics from much less talented writers will surely help the hit totals grow, right? There’s no way people will sour on it and leave for more succinct pastures of UK content.

    Great stuff, Jones!

  47. Nky Fan
    3:36 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Cov Cath and Dixie Heights have a battle for Dixie highway where I’m from.

  48. Coach Cal
    6:55 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    this is the worst post in KSR HISTORY, please fire whoever wrote this post and never let him on this website again

  49. stxgrad
    6:57 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    I played in front of 38,000 people my junior year at stx against trinity. this post is so irrelevant its comedy. there isn’t another rivalry besides stx and trinity in this state. NFL FILMS did special on this rivalry that was aired on national television. This desales/holycross post is a joke. get off KSR and never post again, this website is slowly going downhill from post like these

  50. Go Colts!
    7:38 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    DeSales class of ’89..this is a blog guys..they can post whatever they aren’t forced to read it…some of you are just pissy…if it doesnt interest you move on to the next post…I for one am glad that smaller schools in Louisville got a little press can only read about Trinity and St. X for so long before it gets redundant..and this may not interest you but you took the time to post a comment…not sure I get that.

  51. Go Colts!
    7:46 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    #49…UK versus UL in football is hardly a rivalry that gets national attention..and a game that has little effect on the college football world, yet we follow them. It means something to the fans of both schools, as does the DeSales/HC rivalry for those fans. The arrogance of the larger Catholic schools in Louisville is appalling. Let the smaller schools have one post on a blog without getting pissy…everyone will be talking about your game later. Typical East end arrogance.

  52. BD Falcons
    8:12 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    50 and 51…spot on. If you don’t want to read…use your scroll button. To St X and Trinity people…maybe you can, like you do wins, and BUY you a spot on this blog.

  53. Kevin R.
    8:32 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    I for one liek this article. Why not change it up and do a highlight story each week on Kentucky high school football & basketball (when in season). Also I maybe biased cause I graduated from DeSales in 1997. Though they don’t compare to X & Trinity who cares. Tehre is much more to high school football then those 2. When I was in High School Male was the top team about all 4 years. Good stuff in this read, keep more coming! Buts lets all focus on winning #9. GO BIG BLUE!

  54. Phil B
    8:36 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Nice article! Thanks for writing this Nick! It really takes me back! I’m a 1995 graduate of DeSales and I can’t tell you how much this means to me!
    I’ll never forget the 45-yard (I think) field goal in the driving rain to win the game in the final seconds! Or, unfortunately, the bench clearing “dispute”!
    These schools are both great and I’m thankful that they are still around! I know and have met a lot of great people that are associated with these schools! God bless these schools and Catholic Education! I hope that these schools are around for many years to come!

  55. Jason Johnson
    11:00 am September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Everyone who is upset about this article please watch this video!

  56. Wow you guys suck
    12:50 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    I think it is funny as hell to hear all these people bad mouth something they don’t understand. I played in these games from 2002-2006 and it is as good as a rivalry as any other. Rivalries are what make sports is what Nick is trying to say. And just because we don’t dress 100 kids doesn’t mean we can’t play football. I watched 14 freshman at holy cross manhandle 75 kids from st x two years in a row while I was there. Some of the best football is played by smaller schools in Louisville and outside in the state. So educate yourselves before you talk. Go Cougars.

  57. Here is some history for you big guys
    12:54 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    The County’s longest winning streak is stopped at 50 as Holy Cross beats Trinity 15-14.

  58. tom
    2:09 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    This post is of interest ONLY to the folks who went to either of these schools. The same could be written about many in-state rivalries. Why these two? Because the writer went there. Yawn. Didn’t get past the first two paragraphs. Enjoyed the comments a hell of a lot better than the post.

  59. Rixter
    2:33 pm September 11, 2012 Permalink

    Then why did SO many people feel compelled to read the 11 paragraphs, then comment about how irrelevant it is? When I pick up a newspaper, there read the stories that are of interest to me, and skip the rest. I don’t call the Courier-Journal and complain because they had the nerve to write a story I wasn’t interested in.

    I say, GREAT job, Nick. The DeSales community is proud of you!

  60. BJ#43
    1:35 pm September 13, 2012 Permalink

    Yea # 13 needs to just go watch a movie in Colorodo please and do us all a favor!