Disabato: St. Laurence confident it can make recovery

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The intent was to validate its coming of age, to show skeptics the program had turned the corner of respectability and, if not defeat an elite team, at least remain competitive with that team for 48 minutes.

Instead, what St. Laurence learned during an ugly 55-14 loss Friday to St. Rita was that it still has work to do before it can be regarded in the same breath as the Mustangs and, for that matter, the rest of the Catholic Blue.

At least that’s the case on the football field. The baseball field is another story.

A 2-0 start that included a 44-16 victory over Reavis in the inaugural “Battle of Burbank” had Vikings fans excited and thinking maybe, just maybe, they could stay on the same field as St. Rita.

Then reality hit.

“I never expected that type of outcome,” said St. Laurence coach Harold Blackmon, in his second season. “It’s tough to go up against a team with 50 or 60 players on the sidelines. We have 26 guys that play and 36 on our roster.”

Unfortunately for St. Laurence, Tommy Mister not only transferred to St. Rita, he showed up for Friday’s game and almost single-handedly had Vikings fans checking the calendar to make sure it wasn’t 2012, when their team finished 1-8.

St. Rita led 49-7 at halftime, with Mister contributing five touchdowns.

“All of their scores were pretty much the same,” Blackmon said. “Their size will wear you down. But we’ve moved on from that game.”

The good news for the Vikings is that they left 79th and Western without any serious injuries.

Because if St. Laurence is going to compete for the Catholic League White championship or, at the very least, win five games to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2009, it is going to need all hands on deck.

Call me crazy, but I believe the Vikings will compete for the White title along with Fenwick and De La Salle.

At 2-1, St. Laurence has to split its final six games to finish 5-4 and hope to have enough playoff points to qualify.

The remaining schedule provides hope, despite a sure nonconference loss in Week 7 to Mount Carmel and likely White defeat to Fenwick in Week 9.

Making the playoffs will come down to winning three of four: Saturday against Lake Forest, at Bishop McNamara in Week 5 and home games against De La Salle in Week 6 and St. Ignatius in Week 8.

Blackmon has no doubt the Vikings have the talent to compete, if not win, the White.

The hard part, he said, is convincing his players they can accomplish the feat.

“It’s our mentality, more than anything,” Blackmon said. “We’re trying to create a culture of winning. It’s about getting the kids to believe they can beat teams we have coming up. We need to win these next few games.”

Beginning Saturday against Lake Forest Academy, which is 0-3 but remained competitive during losses to Bishop Mac, 48-31 in Week 2, and Leo, 29-19 in Week 3.

“They’re big, physical and fast,” Blackmon said of Lake Forest Academy’s players.

As freshmen, St. Laurence’s senior class won the White, which should provide confidence for this stretch run. It’s a senior class that includes quarterback Bob Kelly, running back Frank Miller and receiver Mike Fowler, three talented players who have ability to make big plays.

“They won the conference as freshman but the past few years lost that edge,” Blackmon said. “I told the kids after the St. Rita game, our goal is to win the White Division, not win the (Catholic) Blue Division. We need to get back on track this week and get one step closer to punching our ticket to the playoffs.”

Precisely.

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