We’re finally down to the last two teams in Division I, and it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the Division’s only two undefeated teams are the ones that remain.
Top-seeded Rummel is back in the title game for the first time since 2015, and their historically stout defense has led their quest for the program’s third championship in history.
Meanwhile, Catholic-B.R. has done the exact opposite riding a red-hot offense into the title game for the third straight season and the fifth time in five years. They came away victorious in two of those four outings, and a win Friday night at Yulman Stadium would give them their third championship in program history.
Here’s how the two teams stack up in the premier matchup of the opening weekend of championship games in Louisiana.
NO. 1 RUMMEL (12-0) VS. NO. 2 CATHOLIC-B.R. (12-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.
Last Week: Rummel beat No. 4 Brother Martin, 37-27, at Yulman Stadium. Catholic defeated John Curtis, 14-0, at Olympia Stadium.
Notable: Welp, even with a bit of a scare at the end, it was business as usual for Rummel as they kept their unbeaten record intact. The Raiders dominated from the start with an 8-minute, 50-second, 15-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up nearly the entire first quarter. Junior running back Logan Diggs capped off the possession with a 2-yard touchdown run, and Rummel was off and running. They led 23-7 at halftime and 37-7 after the first play of the fourth quarter following a 15-yard touchdown run by senior Jaelen Sturgis, which was his third of the game. The Raider offense looked particularly sharp aside from an errant throw that was returned for a touchdown by Brother Martin’s Nick Turner in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Kyle Wickersham completed 10 of his 12 passes in the first half for 160 yards with a score before ending the day 11-of-14 for 215 yards. The running game was just as effective with four ball carriers rushing 34 times for 196 yards (5.8 yards per carry, excludes sacks and kneels) with four touchdowns. The Rummel offense has really began to find its rhythm over their two playoff games scoring 35 and 37 points with a total of 758 yards against two quality defenses in St. Augustine and Brother Martin.
The Raider defense also regained its dominant form holding the Brother Martin offense scoreless until the 9:25 mark of the fourth quarter, which was partly a result of multiple substitutions. Coach Nick Monica admitted to “taking his foot off the gas” a bit too early, but the Raiders were never in any real trouble as Koy Moore recovered an onside kick with 2:24 left. Sturgis then rumbled for a 10-yard gain on second down as Rummel ran out the clock. Also of note defensively for the Raiders was the absence of Donovan Kaufman, who exited the game in the third quarter with an apparent upper-body injury. It doesn’t appear too serious, though, and Kaufman is the type of player who’d probably still suit up even if he was missing a limb or two for a championship game.
If there was any doubt regarding just how good this Catholic team is (and there shouldn’t have been), they put those to bed holding Curtis scoreless for the first time since 2001 in the regular season, and the first time since 1970 in the postseason. What was surprising, however, was the final 14-0 score in a game that featured two offenses averaging over 46 points going into the matchup. The Catholic defense hadn’t been overly impressive numbers wise giving up 20 points or more on four different occasions, one of which was a 50-piece against arguably the state’s top offense and Division II finalist St. Thomas More. They were apparently the perfect matchup for the Patriots’ ground-and-pound attack, though, as the Bear defense limited the Catholic League’s top two rushers in Corey Wren and Collin Guggenheim to 64 and 28 yards on a total of 26 carries. It was their first shutout of the entire season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time as Catholic launched itself into the Division I title game for the third straight season.
Offensively, it was also a season-low for Catholic, and seven of their 14 points came with 3:45 left in the game while the other came following a high snap on a Curtis punt that led to a 19-yard touchdown drive in the opening quarter. Josh Parker led the team in rushing once again with 72 yards on 15 carries while quarterback Jackson Thomas was efficient yet again going 12-of-16 for 120 yards and a touchdown. The Bears’ previous season-low was 24 in a matchup against North Little Rock in Week 2. It was the first time Catholic looked stoppable, which may give the Rummel defense even more confident than they already are (if that’s even possible) heading into their first title game since 2015.
Pick: Rummel, 24-17.