Poly-City offers chance at redemption

November 11, 1995|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

His squad was ranked No. 3 in preseason. And as the top tackler among several starters returning from an 8-2 team, City linebacker Jemini Jones had hoped for a promising year.

But with only today's game against rival Poly remaining, the best the Knights (4-5) can hope for is a .500 season. It's a rare and disappointing situation for a program used to winning, and one Jones, a senior, said can partly be remedied by a victory today in the 107th annual meeting of the two teams. The game also represents the city 2A championship game, with each team having beaten Forest Park.

"It's been a rough season with some key injuries. There have been changes made, but sometimes the coaches and the players were thinking on two different levels," Jones said.

Things aren't much different over at Poly, where the Engineers (3-6) have missed as many as eight starters at once and been unable to live up to their preseason No. 6 ranking. Coach Augie Waibel, in his 38th year, can't recall being on the end of such lopsided losses as against Loyola, 34-0, Salesianum, 45-0, and Dunbar, 30-6.

At times, said senior John Pierre, team and student body morale have taken a nose dive.

"People in school are always asking, 'when are you guys going to win a game?' A lot of them have lost faith because when you're Poly, you're expected to win," said Pierre, a running back who also has played on the defensive line.

"After being 9-2 last year, it's kind of heartbreaking to go whatever -- 4-6 or 3-7."

Forced to use two-way players, something he rarely ever does, Waibel said this will be his first losing season at Poly, which ended a four-game losing streak with last week's 39-14 win over a Calvert Hall team that earlier blanked City, 14-0.

"We felt like we could play that way at the beginning of the year, maybe even go undefeated," said Poly junior Du'Juan Wilson, a safety. "But there have been times where we've just lacked the incentive and the heart. We have good people, but we'll run three good plays and then mess up."

Injuries and inconsistency also have plagued the Knights, who turned the ball over 15 times in their first couple of games. Coach George Petrides takes aim at his 120th career victory.

"To be honest, I can't gauge what this team's going to do game to game. There have been times where we've looked great in practices, only to fall apart in games," said Petrides, whose Knights lost, 53-18, to top-ranked Mount St. Joseph last week. "But I think this is different. This is Poly. Our kids know never to take them lightly."

Especially because the Engineers, leaders of the series (52-48-6), handed the Knights stinging setbacks the last couple of times. Two years ago, City's 29-game win streak ended, 21-20, on Greg Kyler's diving 24-yard touchdown reception inches from the back of the end zone. And last year, ahead, 6-0, with 38 seconds left, the Knights watched Poly's Martin Prosper haul in a 12-yard touchdown pass in a 7-6 win.

"We had winning seasons the last two years, but those two losses make you feel like they were losing seasons," said Jones. "I want to be ruthless and merciless and destroy Poly. I want the game to be so far out of reach in the fourth quarter that we can just put in our second string and relax."

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