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SoCal’s ‘Holy Bowl’ is More than Just a Game, it’s a Tradition

The southern California version of the ‘Holy Bowl’ — the high school football showdown between Cathedral Catholic and St. Augustine, is more than just another rivalry game between two schools, it’s a tradition.

Once known as ‘The Charity Bowl’, the official matchup began back in 1966. Although both are two of the bigger schools in San Diego County and may look similar on the surface, they differ in many ways. One school is co-ed, the other is an all-boys institution.

The Dons — University High and later Cathedral Catholic after the campus was moved in 2005 — hold a 32-21 advantage. The teams have played at least once every year with the exception of 2007 when the game was canceled by wildfires in the area.

The grooves of tradition cut deep for those who played in this game as well. “The Alumni come back. You’ll see guys come back who played in this game in the mid 60’s and they talk about this game like they played in it last week” says Dons head coach Sean Doyle.

Over the years, the rivalry has seen several venue changes as well. Huge crowds are always on hand whether the site is San Diego Mesa College (the current venue), Southwestern College, Balboa Stadium, Manchester Stadium at Cathedral Catholic, Aztec Bowl and even San Diego Stadium, where comedian Bob Hope provided the halftime entertainment in the 1970s.

The 2018 version of the Holy Bowl saw Cathedral get the upper hand with a 34-14 victory. But as evidence by both teams joining hands in prayer at midfield after the game, the lessons of brotherhood, sportsmanship, teamwork and respect will carry over to all aspects of these young men’s lives.