David Shaw has referred to Stanford University football as “intellectual brutality.” He played there as a wide receiver in the early 1990s, then went on to succeed Jim Harbaugh as head coach in 2011. “Intellectual brutality” is a strong way to say it, but I think that is awesome. You think of Stanford football, you think of smart guys who line up against you and play relentlessly.
I like to think of St. Louis U. High like that. Coach Paul Martel always scheduled the biggest, strongest, toughest teams in the area. We were not afraid to play anybody. I really liked that about our school. Those teams always knew that when they played us, they were going to be playing a smart, well-coached team, that was going to be physical and tough, and came to play. I think “intellectual brutality” is a pretty good saying, and I’d like to associate that with SLUH football.
Joe Castellano has captured the spirit of St. Louis U. High football in this compelling story about the 1970 Junior Billiken season. It is inspiring to read his account of how kids from so many different backgrounds came together for a common purpose, especially as they were confronted by the turmoil and tragedy of the times. The story brought to my mind the wonderful time I had in high school, playing the game for the pure joy of it, and making lifelong friends through experiences well beyond the football field. Bull in the Ring is Joe’s story of his experience at St. Louis U. High, but it is a universal story that should appeal to anyone.
His insightful description of the head coach we shared, 15 seasons apart, was so revealing. Coach Martel could be tough, but his coaching genius had us well prepared for every opponent, and he cared about developing us as men beyond football.
In reading this story, I was reminded once again of just how difficult it is to win the ultimate championship. We came up a little short of winning a state title when I was there, but I do not remember one bad day. It was just so much fun playing ball at SLUH. I am grateful to Coaches Martel and Gary Kornfeld, and all my coaches, teammates and classmates for helping to make it such a great experience. It helped me in my career, to instill in me a love for football, and to have the personal success I enjoyed.
Note: After graduating from St. Louis U. High in 1986, Henry Jones became an All-American at the University of Illinois. In 1991, he was a first-round draft choice of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, where he became an All-Pro safety and played on three Super Bowl teams. Among the wide receivers he defended were Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Mark Duper, Mark Clayton, and Marvin Harrison.