May 11, 2022

St. Joseph Central Scholar Bowl claims first state title; team looks toward nationals

Posted May 11, 2022 12:29 PM
Photo by Tommy Rezac.
Photo by Tommy Rezac.


St. Joseph Post

Even for some of the best teams and competitors, there are times when that championship seems just out of reach. It takes longer for some than others.

It took Andy Reid until his 21st year as an NFL head coach to win a Super Bowl. It took Dale Earnhardt 20 tries to win a Daytona 500. It took the Chicago Cubs 108 years.

Take the St. Joseph Central Scholar Bowl team. They had been to the state tournament every year from 2014-2021. They finished fourth twice, third last year and second four times before that.

In three of those seven runs, the Indians were one question away from winning it all. But this year, Central finally broke through. In their eighth consecutive year at state, Central defeated Parkway West of St. Louis 430-310 in Columbia to claim the program's first state championship.

Making what once seemed unattainable a reality.

"We've had two runs like the Buffalo Bills in the 90s," Central coach Jeff Carter said, citing the four straight Super Bowl losses by the Bills. "These kids have worked so hard and they are so deserving of winning this state title. It was just exceptionally rewarding to see them come through and get it done this year."

Carter has been the Scholar Bowl coach at Central for 15 years. He's overseen this nearly decade-long run of dominance. He says the formula for success has stayed more-or-less the same through the years.

"Coaching style is we're just going to work and do our best," Carter said. "We've learned the things that work well for our program and our students. We just try to do the best that we can and we will go anywhere and play in any tournament we can find."

Senior captain Frederick Rivas-Giorgi is in his final days of high school. He's going to Yale this fall, where he'll be a pre-med student studying biology. While he certainly looks forward to the future, he's happy his high school career ended with this state championship.

"It's something we've been working on for the better part of a decade," Rivas-Giorgi said. "I've been working on it for pretty much my entire high school career. So, it really is rewarding. I suppose it is a poetic sense of joy that like, 'Oh wow. My senior year, entering a new stage in life, but this high school career can go out with a bang in a sense that after working for four years, we finally did it.'"

The best part is - Central's season is not yet over. The Indians, who are ranked a program-best 46th in the nation right now, are headed to the national tournament in Atlanta over Memorial Day weekend.

It was a virtual event last year, but Central showed out well, placing 51st out of roughly 250 teams.

"Usually with high school sports, once your state tournament is done, that's it," Carter said. "Getting to take it to a next level of national competition and proving ourselves against the best of the best. Like, that's even more exciting for us."

Rivas-Giorgi says having that momentum of a state title going into nationals certainly helps.

"Coming hot off of a state win like this, I mean we've been working our tails off," he said. "We've been doing everything possible to do well at state. Now, I think with all of the preparation we're doing, it's going to be great. Everyone feels really good about this tournament. We go in feeling like, 'Yeah, we're among one of the best teams in Missouri. We can absolutely place against the top teams in other states."

The accolades for Central Scholar Bowl this season are remarkable. A 79-16 record, eight straight conference and district titles, and seven consecutive top four finishes at state.

While this season is nearly over, coach Carter and Rivas-Giorgi both recognize the hard work that went into winning a state title even years prior, and they hope others may come in and help the Indians win even more hardware in the years to come.

"This is something we've been building toward and working for for 10 years," Carter reiterated. "Just so grateful I've had so many great kids who have worked hard. I wish I could share that with all of them, because they're all champions to me. They've all done the work to earn this. I just couldn't be prouder of the time I've had working with and coaching the Central Scholar Bowl team."

St. Joseph Central's scholar bowl team members, along with coach Jeff Carter, are Frederick Rivas-Giorgi, Patrick Rivas-Giorgi, Adam Klassen, Caden Turner, Matthew Byrd and Maverick Nabors. Courtesy photo.
St. Joseph Central's scholar bowl team members, along with coach Jeff Carter, are Frederick Rivas-Giorgi, Patrick Rivas-Giorgi, Adam Klassen, Caden Turner, Matthew Byrd and Maverick Nabors. Courtesy photo.
Photo by Tommy Rezac.
Photo by Tommy Rezac.

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.