Will the sun set on the Roman Empire in 2019?
Roman Catholic has long stood among the greatest scholastic basketball programs in Philadelphia and along the Eastern Seaboard. Mike Bantom, John Griffin, Zane Major, Dallas Comegys, Tarone Thorton, and Bernard Jones are some of names that come to mind when thinking of the Roman program in the late 60s, 70s, and 80s. The late great Eddie Griffin ushered in the new millennium at Broad and Vine. For decades, when one thought of the Catholic League, one thought of the Cahillites.
Oh every once in a while, someone like Rodney Blake would appear at Bonner and disrupt the established order. Comegys and Thorton just couldn’t get past Big Rod. But it always seemed that Roman could make an adjustment, find a player, do whatever it took to get back on top.
Til he appeared… He invaded from the south…
Sir Carl Arrigale of St. John Neumann appeared on the scene for the 1998-99 season. It took him just 36 months to win his first Catholic League title. He then proceeded to win 10 titles over the next 14 seasons.
For a decade and a half, the Roman Empire was sacked… Long live Sir Arrigale and the Saints…
The Cahillites grew increasingly frustrated… One could hear the whispers… They were circumspect about General Chris McNesby. While always in the mix, for years, he failed to capture the crown.
That is… Until he did!
Then he did it again and rode off on his stallion into the sunset… Just like John Elway, McNesby left as a two-time champion…
The Roman Empire was regaining it’s footing, back to back titles, and BOOM General McNesby retires…
In an instant, one of the most prestigious scholastic coaching jobs in America was available… Who?
Who would take the reigns?
Roman decided on a bright, young, energetic yet unproven assistant coach.
Matt Griffin… son a coach… brother of a coach… Was named Head Coach.
Immediately, the questions emerged… Is he ready? Can he manage a game? Can he recruit? Can he relate to the players?
His first year, a phalanx of Vikings arose from Warminster and scorched the landscape. Led by the brilliant Commander Gillespie and General Mosco, they crushed the competition while taking no prisoners.
But just as they did in earlier decades, the Roman Empire regrouped a year later. In a classic battle that came down to the final play, the Cahillites captured the Crown for the 3rd time in 4 years.
Visiting the cramped Roman gymnasium today, one finds a battalion that appears ready to defend and perhaps expand the Roman Empire. The current roster features at least 5, maybe 6, Division 1 scholarship players. Penn State commit Seth Lundy ’19 is a top 100 talent at the SF/PF spot. St. Joseph’s commit Hakim Hart ’19 has a feathery soft jump shot with range out the NBA 3 point line at the SG/SF position. Lynn Greer ’20 is another top 100 level talent playing in the backcourt. Also in the backcourt is Justice Williams ‘22, a mercurial 6’3” freshman combo that plays with USA basketball. Manning the middle is 6’9” Jalen Duren ’22 a top 5 level talent in his class. Sheeeeeesh…..
Combo guard Louis Wild ’19 is a scholarship level player, perhaps low D1 or high D2. Lightning quick Michael Anderson ’21 will catch the eye of scouts with his scoring and playmaking abilities. Athletic wing Gabe Perez ’19 will also play college basketball.
The Cahillites are loaded! Roman is LONG!. Roman is ATHLETIC! Roman has shooters. Roman has an elite rim protector.
In just under 2 weeks, they venture down to the nation’s capital where they will face two exceptionally strong and proud programs. The battles with Archbishop Carroll and DeMatha Catholic will give us an early read… Are the youngins ready for prime time?
Then on December 16, the Cahillites face Public Power, the nationally ranked Imhotep Panthers. This has the makings of the Philly high school Game of the Year.
Shit ‘bout to get real around here! Hoop Headz… Take Terrell Owens advice and “get your popcorn ready!”
Black Cager Sports looks forward to covering these exciting matchups!