Gonzaga’s Jabari Greenwood runs for a touchdown as Georgetown Prep’s Justin Helfgott pursues him during a football game at Georgetown Prep on Sept. 13 that benefitted the Washington Jesuit Academy. (CS PHOTO BY LESLIE KOSSOFF)
Gonzaga’s Jabari Greenwood runs for a touchdown as Georgetown Prep’s Justin Helfgott pursues him during a football game at Georgetown Prep on Sept. 13 that benefitted the Washington Jesuit Academy. (CS PHOTO BY LESLIE KOSSOFF)

Gonzaga College High School in Washington and Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda are two of the oldest Jesuit catholic secondary schools in the country. Located 10 miles apart, they first played a football game in 1891. Since then, the teams have matched up 75 more times with Gonzaga holding a slight 35-28 edge in wins.  Due to scheduling conflicts and league obligations, the series went dormant after the 1988 game.

In 2001, the Jesuit communities in Washington, D.C., founded the Washington Jesuit Academy, a school designed to help promising students of all faiths from low income communities in grades 5-8. The rigorous schedule, which includes a 12 hour school day for 11 months, three meals and a caring, high-level faculty, would not charge tuition.

The stated vision of the Washington Jesuit Academy is to “create an education model that addresses the cycle of poverty that plagues our student’s communities and replace it a cycle of hope, determination and success.”

The idea of resuming the Prep-Gonzaga football game immediately surfaced as a prime fund raising opportunity. Officials from both schools enthusiastically endorsed the idea and the first game was played in 2004. Ten years later, the game has raised, through game receipts and program advertising more than $1.2 million for the Washington Jesuit Academy.

The academy is flourishing and has now graduated more than 225 students sending them, on to more than 25 area private schools, all without charging a penny in tuition. Eight WJA alumni are currently enrolled in the two schools and 15 more have graduated.

As for this year’s game, Coach Randy Trivers of Gonzaga fretted all week that his top ranked Eagles would suffer a letdown after their convincing win over former number one Centerville last week. Next up was ancient rival Georgetown Prep in the annual Jesuit Gridiron Classic game. “The kids were so happy after Centerville, I had to remind them that Prep has a very good team, they are well coached and it’s a rivalry game.”

The Eagles quickly calmed Trivers’ fears, taking the opening kickoff and marching 65 yards on seven plays with star running back Reggie Corbin  going over from three yards out to take a 7-0 lead. After an exchange of punts and aided by a penalty, Prep moved smartly into Gonzaga territory before Sean Strittmater was intercepted on the Gonzaga 22-yard-line. The Eagles moved 57 yards in eight plays and Brian Johnson nailed a 44-yard field goal that ended the first quarter 10-0.

Early in the second quarter, Strittmater went down with an ankle injury that seemed to deflate the Little Hoyas. Gonzaga scored four touchdowns in the second quarter with Corbin adding two more, scoring from 15 yards out and finishing with a one yard plunge. Jabari Greenwood added a 57 yard pass from UVA bound Nick Johns and Tyree Randolph finished the scoring with a weaving 30-yard run.

Coach Dan Paro of Prep was disappointed in the outcome but proud of his players. “We competed but we knew going in that it would take a perfect game to beat them. They are big, fast and very well coached. They were biting off yardage in such big chunks, we couldn’t make our adjustments quickly enough,” he said.

The third and fourth quarters were played mostly between the twenty yard lines with Prep getting on the board on a 40-yard field goal by Brian Doan to finish the scoring at 38-3. Both coaches looked to the future with Gonzaga taking on McKinley before embarking on the brutal six game league schedule. Prep, back in the Interstate Athletic Conference after a 10 year absence, opens the league season next week against St. Stephen’s.

General Douglas MacArthur commenting on the Army-Navy game once said, “On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days, on other fields will bear the fruits of victory.” The Prep-Gonzaga  game has gone a long way in securing that vision for the Washington Jesuit Academy.