Only the big boys remain as we head into the second week of the playoffs in Louisiana and five of the Catholic League’s seven teams are still alive in Division I.
The other five will all be in action this Friday in the quarterfinals with top-seeded Rummel taking on No. 8 St. Augustine while two more 9-5A foes face one another once again with No. 3 John Curtis taking on No. 6 Jesuit. No. 4 Brother Martin is the only team of the five to take on a non-Catholic League opponent matching up with Scotlandville at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Here’s a look at each matchup this week as we head into the meat of the playoffs in Division I, and don’t forget to check out the Catholic League individual stat leaders through the end of the regular season.
NO. 1 RUMMEL (10-0) VS. NO. 8 ST. AUGUSTINE (6-5)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Joe Yenni Stadium.
Last Week: Rummel had a bye. St. Augustine defeated No. 9 Byrd, 45-40, at Yulman Stadium.
Notable: It’s a task within itself to get through any season undefeated, but doing so in the Catholic League during one of its strongest years in recent seasons says about as much as you need to know about the Raiders. The defense has been historically great allowing a total of just 33 points with four touchdowns during the season, and 20 of those with three touchdowns came in their dramatic Week 9 overtime win over previously undefeated John Curtis. They have recorded six shutouts this season, one of which came against St. Augustine in Week 8. Vanderbilt safety commitment Donovan Kaufman has been a man possessed leading a unit that has 7-9 potential Division I prospects in tackles and touchdowns with 75 and 2. He also has 3.5 sacks with three interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, and don’t be surprised if Rummel uses him on offense at some point during the playoffs.
Offensively, Rummel hasn’t been quite as consistent week in and week out as their talent level would suggest, but one thing they’ve done routinely throughout the season is protect the football. They have lost just four fumbles this season while junior quarterback Kyle Wickersham has thrown just five interceptions. That recipe combined with their potential for explosive plays with a stingy defense has been enough to get them over the hump all season, and one would expect that trend to continue Friday night.
In the last meeting against Rummel in Week 8, the Purple Knights proved yet again that they’re fully capable of competing with the top teams in the Catholic League. They jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first 29 seconds of the game, and still held a 12-9 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. The offense moved the ball fairly well considering the opponent picking up 15 first downs, but three trips to the red zone resulted in 0 points. The Purple Knight defense demonstrated it could slow down Rummel’s offense, and if they can get a little help from the offense Friday night, they’ll have a puncher’s chance at pulling off the upset. They’ll be a confident group heading into the game after the previous close meeting against the Raiders as well as completing a comeback in the final minutes to take down Byrd last week in a shootout.
Pick: Rummel, 17-3.
NO. 3 JOHN CURTIS (9-1) VS. NO. 6 JESUIT (7-4)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
Last Week: John Curtis had a bye. Jesuit beat Shaw, 33-0, at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Notable: A week off should do the Patriots well after a brutal season in the Catholic League, particularly for Army quarterback commitment Collin Guggenheim. District 9-5A’s leading rusher has been a bit banged up over the last few weeks of the season despite not missing any time, and he should be ready to add to his regular season rushing total of 1,116 yards with 18 touchdowns. Georgia running back commitment Corey Wren wasn’t far behind with 1,049 yards with 14 touchdowns on 83 carries, which averages out to an absurd 12.6 yards per carry. While Guggenheim and Wren will be the center of the Patriots’ 47.4-point per game offense, they seem to have made a concerted effort to get their passing game going a bit over the last few weeks of the season.
Defensively, Curtis has been solid to good for the majority of the season. They surrendered 39 in the season opener to Karr and 31 to Holy Cross in just the first half in Week 8, but shut out the Tigers in the second half before holding Rummel and Brother Martin to 21 and 3 points in Weeks 9 and 10. Their strength lies at the line of scrimmage with perhaps the most fearsome defensive end tandem in Tulane commitment Angelo Anderson and senior Marquis Martin. Anderson finished the season as the Catholic League leader in sacks (20) and tackles for loss (11), and was also fifth in tackles overall with 68. Martin was second in sacks in 9-5A with 12 while tying for sixth in tackles for loss with six.
Jesuit ended up with a decisive win last week against the Catholic League’s last-place team in Shaw, but it was a bit tougher than they may have expected. They managed just 10 points in the first half despite the defense setting the offense up with excellent field position on multiple occasions, but they did get it going in the fourth quarter specifically scoring 16 of their 33 points. Despite senior quarterback Grant Jordan finishing second in the Catholic League in passing, the Blue Jays also struggled offensively in their previous meeting with Curtis falling, 35-14, in Week 7. Jesuit’s strength does lie in the trenches, though, as we’ve detailed all season, and their physicality has the potential to even the odds in any matchup.
Pick: John Curtis, 38-17.
NO. 4 BROTHER MARTIN (8-2) VS. NO. 5 SCOTLANDVILLE (8-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Tad Gormley Stadium.
Last Week: Brother Martin had a bye. Scotlandville defeated No. 12 McKinley, 35-0, at home.
Notable: Brother Martin has likely been a bit overlooked in the eyes of many due to the success of Rummel and John Curtis, who handed the Crusaders their only two losses of the season. Brother Martin, however, has been one of the top teams in 5A with quality wins both in and outside of Catholic League play. Their running game has been reliable for the vast majority of the season boasting the third and fourth leading rushers in 9-5A in senior Chris Smith (123 carries, 795 yards, 8 TDs) and junior Jaylon Spears (137 carries, 743 yards, 6 TDs). Smith reached that total in spite of being limited for about 2 1/2 games due to a collarbone injury, and the duo had a solid outing in their last game of the regular season against John Curtis rushing 32 times for 163 yards. Their efforts weren’t enough to find the end zone, though, as Brother Martin was held without a touchdown for just the second time this season.
Defensively, the Crusaders have been the Catholic League’s second-best unit behind Rummel with the first-team defense allowing more than one touchdown just twice this season against Holy Cross in Week 9 and Curtis in Week 10. Senior linebacker Trevor Tate ended the season as the Catholic League’s leading tackler with 78, and the Crusaders’ primary impact players include defensive lineman Noah Labbe and Hunter Lassere along with defensive backs Davonn Moore and Georgia Tech commitment Nicholas Turner. They’ll have their work cut out for them this week against a potent Scotlandville offense, but they’ve rose to the challenge in essentially every game this season.
Scotlandville surged out to a 5-0 start before three straight losses against tough District 4-5A opponents in Walker (35-27), Central-B.R. (30-27) and Zachary (20-12). All three of those teams are top 16 seeds in Class 5A and the Hornets were within one score in each game. Their 12-point outing against Zachary was their lowest of the season, and it was certainly an outlier in what has otherwise been an explosive unit. They’ve scored 53 points or more in five games led by the Baton Rouge area’s second leading passer in senior Jesse Craig (98/172, 1,833 yards, 18 TDs, 5 INTs). He’s also capable of hurting opponents with his legs, as is speedy sophomore running back Chance Williams. The Hornets also make good use of another player with elite speed in senior Jeremiah Harris, who lines up as both a running back and receiver depending on the formation.
Defensively, Scotlandville’s starting center in basketball Jonathan Horton has made a huge impact in his first full season as football player. The 6-foot-5, 214-pounder has been a force off the edge as a defensive end/outside linebacker, and has reeled in offers from a plethora of Power 5 teams including Virginia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Baylor and Tulane among others. Senior and junior defensive backs Chris Daigre and Jah’Von Grigsby are two more Hornet defenders receiving Division I interest and the unit has allowed 18.5 points per game.
Scotlandville is without question a very talented team, and they have every chance at pulling off a road win Friday night against Brother Martin.
Pick: Scotlandville, 24-21.