Exciting times are on the horizon for this year’s Rummel Raiders.
The team returns 18 of 22 starters from a group that finished 9-3 last season with a trip to the Division I semifinals, and the Raiders have a ton of talent on top of their experience with at least 10 players earning scholarship offers over the spring and summer.
The Class of 2020 appears primed for a big season after taking its lumps over the last three years, and the Raiders are hoping to recapture the magic that brought them a district title and an appearance in the Dome in 2015.
“Both of those are goals of ours,” said Nick Monica, who will be in his first season at the helm of the Raider program after the retiring of longtime coach Jay Roth.
“But right now, it’s so far away we’re just trying to get better and worry about ourselves. We talk about getting more physical and becoming more disciplined, so right now that’s where the focus is.”
Monica is no stranger to Rummel’s process of building from the ground up as he heads into his 16th season with the Raiders. Multiple players noted that procedures have stayed largely the same during the transition from Roth to Monica as head coach, but Rummel does have one major change to look forward to.
After two seasons of high level quarterback play with current Louisiana-Lafayette freshman Chandler Fields taking snaps from center, Rummel will now turn to incoming quarterback Kyle Wickersham.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior transfer from Jesuit was one of the aforementioned players to pick up an offer over the summer
“I loved my time at Jesuit but I love Rummel and I love this program,” said Wickersham, who holds an offer from Nicholls with interest from Tulane and UL as well. “This school has been great to me, they welcomed me with open arms and I’m really happy to be here.”
“Well first of all, Kyle is a fabulous kid,” Monica began. “He’s a good football player but he’s a fabulous kid and he brings a lot to the program just with that in itself. As a quarterback, I’ve been very impressed with how quickly he’s picked up the offense. This is not a quarterback-friendly offense. There’s a lot of pre-snap and post-snap reads, and how quickly he’s been able to grasp things has been pretty impressive.”
While Wickersham adjusts to the new offense, he’ll have no shortage of weapons to lean on including highly-ranked receiver Koy Moore.
The 6-foot, 175-pounder was the go-to threat in the passing game for Rummel last year and he’ll unquestionably be a premier target for Wickersham early on and throughout the season.
“He’s getting used to the offense fast,” said Moore echoing the sentiments of Monica before expounding on some of the similarities he sees between Wickersham and Fields. “They both have a nice arm, they’re accurate and they make good reads.”
When the Raiders aren’t attempting to move the ball through the air, they’ll have two proven runners to lean on in the backfield.
Senior leader and power back Jaelen Sturgis rushed for 1,014 yards with 10 touchdowns in just the regular season last year, and junior Logan Diggs provides the Raiders with a change of pace capable of shaking loose for big yardage on any given play.
Rummel also returns four of last year’s five starting lineman, who will be responsible for paving the way for the Raiders’ many weapons.
“We’re going to get those guys the ball as much as possible,” Monica said. “I think our offensive staff does a good job preparing them and understating where the playmakers are.”
“It’s awesome playing with them and it’s fun watching what they can do,” Wickersham said of playing with his new teammates. “You just throw it up there and they can go get, or hand it off to Jaelen or Diggs and they’ll take it 80 yards. It’s great to have weapons like that around you.”
While the offense has a handful of top-tier prospects, the defense has just as many, if not more.
The unit returns 10 of 11 starters from last season including senior defensive lineman Jordon Williams, junior linebacker Kolbe Fields and senior defensive backs Donovan Kaufman, Quinton Cage, Gavin Holmes and Corey Smooth.
All of the aforementioned defenders are receiving heavy interest from college programs with Williams and Holmes already committed to South Alabama and Colorado, respectively. They held opponents to 14 points or fewer in seven of the team’s 12 games including a four-week stretch of seven points or fewer in Weeks 5-8, and they’re looking to be even more dominant in 2019 after being consistently challenged by a talented offense day in and day out.
“They’re intense, very intense,” Williams said of the daily competition between the offense and defense. “We battle everyday and it makes us better — iron sharpens iron.”
Rummel’s first test will be on the road September 6 in North Carolina against Charlotte Catholic High, and they won’t have a home game until Week 4 against Ruston on September 28.
Catholic League play kicks off the following week October 5 against Shaw and the Raiders are hoping to have a special season in store as they head into the second week of practice.
“We’ve been making tremendous strides through practice,” Wickersham said. “We’ve still got a lot of things to clean up but it’s really looking good and I think we’re going places.”
Rummel 2019 Schedule
Week 1 | Sept. 6 (Fri.) | @ Charlotte Catholic (NC) | 7 p.m.
Week 2 | Sept. 13 (Fri.) | @ Slidell | 7 p.m.
Week 3 | Sept. 20 (Fri.) | @ Oak Grove (MS) | 7 p.m.
Week 4 | Sept. 28 (Sat.) | vs. Ruston | 2 p.m.
Week 5 | Oct. 5 (Sat.) | vs. Shaw | 7 p.m.
Week 6 | Oct. 12 (Sat.) | vs. Brother Martin | 2 p.m.
Week 7 | Oct. 18 (Fri.) | @ Holy Cross | 7 p.m.
Week 8 | Oct. 26 (Sat.) | vs. St. Augustine | 7 p.m.
Week 9 | Nov. 2 (Sat.) | @ John Curtis | 7 p.m.
Week 10 | Nov. 8 (Fri.) | @ Jesuit | 7 p.m.