There are some factors at work that make the Bishop Carroll-Kapaun Mount Carmel football rivalry a doozy.
First, of course, is that most of the kids who will be on the field Friday night at Cessna Stadium are Catholics.
Second, the whole west side-east side thing is in play. Carroll is located on Central near Tyler; Kapaun on East Central east of Rock Road.
So, yeah, this has all the makings of a down-and-dirty, last-man-standing epic.
Except for one thing. And the folks from Kapaun might want to close their eyes as I write this — Carroll has won 14 straight over the Crusaders since 2000, including one playoff game.
Rivalries thrive on mystery and the cat is usually out of the bag early when these two meet.
Friday, though, could be different. Carroll is 5-0 and riding a 17-game winning streak. But Kapaun, too, is 5-0, and ranked No. 1 in Class 5A. Carroll is No. 2.
If you think Kapaun coach Dan Adelhardt is unsure about whether his team deserves that ranking, you’re right.
“We don’t feel like we deserve it,” said Adelhardt, who is 0-8 against the Eagles since becoming Kapaun’s coach. “Like I told our kids, Carroll is the No. 1 team; they’re the defending (5A) state champions; they’re the ones with the 17-game winning streak. We appreciate being recognized, but we feel like we have a lot to earn.”
Carroll has struggled to beat West and Northwest the past two weeks. The Eagles changed quarterbacks in the second half against Northwest. For a program as successful as Bishop Carroll, this is the definition of the wheels coming off.
But as Alan Schuckman has shown over and over again, he’s a coach capable of jacking up his team and changing the wheels. He’s also a coach who welcomes the challenge Kapaun brings.
“What’s exciting about this game is that both teams are undefeated and the atmosphere that will create,” Schuckman said. “I’m excited for both schools, both teams.”
Patrick Burrus, a senior free safety for Kapaun, likes his team’s chances.
“I’ve played sports against those guys from Carroll throughout my youth,” Burrus said. “I wouldn’t say we hate them, but there is kind of an east-side, west-side rivalry. It’s always been that way. I’m tired of them holding the winning streak over us. I think everybody is tired of it. That should change this week.”
Not so fast, says Carroll senior receiver Scott Linnebur. The Eagles aren’t ready to take their feet off of the Crusaders’ throats. But even Linnebur recognizes this could be Kapaun’s biggest threat in a while.
“The winning streak is a nice thing to have,” he said. “But it also puts quite a bit of pressure on maintaining that streak and not letting down on our past excellence.”
The Carroll-Kapaun rivalry reached its apex in the late-1970s when Ed Kriwiel was coaching at KMC and Chuck Porter, a former top aide to Kriwiel, was at Carroll. They are two of the most successful coaches in City League history and those battles were tense.
Lately, though, not so much.
The last time Carroll lost to Kapaun, in fact, was when Dan Duling was a sophomore for the Golden Eagles. Duling is now Father Dan Duling and in his first year as chaplain at Kapaun Mount Carmel. Oh, there’s another interesting twist. Duling’s youngest brother, Jacob, is a sophomore on Carroll’s football team. For Dan, Friday night is going to be weird.
“I talk with my little brother almost every day,” Duling said. “We talk football, we talk about what’s happening at school, we talk about what’s happening here at Kapaun. We’re family, so blood is thicker than any school.”
That said, Duling will be on the Kapaun Mount Carmel sideline Friday.
“I told someone on a radio show the other night that I’m a proud Bishop Carroll alum,” Duling said. “But I’m a proud Kapaun chaplain.”
A dozen years ago, though, when Duling was a senior at Carroll and the Eagles had built a modest two-game winning streak over Kapaun, emotions were different.
“I wasn’t too fond of Kapaun back in my high school years,” Duling said. “But being here now, I love it. I got to know Kapaun through my two years at St. Thomas, which is just right up the road from Kapaun. So I’ve really been a part of Kapaun for three years now. It’s my home and I’m loving it here.”
Duling went on to ask the Bishop Carroll community to please understand where he was coming from. Actually, he didn’t. I’m doing that for him because emotions are probably running high for this game.
And who knows? Kapaun and Carroll could meet again in the playoffs, when stakes will be even higher.
But the stakes Friday are up there.
“In the scope of things, next week is what all football coaches in Kansas are preparing for,” Kapaun’s Adelhardt said of approaching district play. “At least you say that. But we’ve been in some of these games against Carroll. We’ve had some really competitive football games. It gets to a point where maybe this is our time.”