We’re rolling into the second half of the season already and the Catholic League looks as strong as ever at the top. John Curtis, Rummel and Brother Martin are all still undefeated, but that won’t be the case after Saturday’s showdown between the Raiders and Crusaders.
Meanwhile, the Patriots will travel to Shaw while St. Augustine tries to put aside their off-field controversy in a Saturday night meeting with Jesuit. Holy Cross will be the team stepping outside of district play for an intriguing contest against last year’s Class 4A runner-up, Warren Easton.
SHAW (2-3, 0-2) VS. JOHN CURTIS (5-0, 1-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Joe Zimmerman Stadium @ Shaw High.
Last Week: Shaw lost to Rummel, 42-0, at Joe Yenni Stadium. John Curtis defeated Lake Placid (FL), 61-14, at Pan American Stadium.
Notable: Shaw’s youth and injuries were on full display Saturday against an experienced Rummel squad. The Eagles just weren’t able to match up physically with one of the state’s most talented teams, and injuries to seniors Tyler Nichol (QB), Dorian Lewis (DB) and Dawson Guidry (DB) certainly didn’t help. The Eagles managed just 57 yards of offense and most of those came late in the game on a pair of catches by receiver Michael Williams. The freshman is beginning to establish himself as a go-to and up-and-coming threat for Shaw as his first catch was a sensational leaping grab over his defender on a throw downfield for a 34-yard pickup. He then had another catch and run for 21 yards a few plays later, but the Eagles ended up throwing an interception on their only trip to the red zone. Shaw is an exceptionally young group, but they do have a plethora of young players that could help them contend down the road in a year or two.
As expected, Curtis didn’t have much trouble blowing by a visiting Lake Placid (FL) squad. The opening quarter was competitive with the Patriots holding a one-score lead of 22-14, but they went on to dominate the second quarter scoring 29 unanswered points. The Patriots rolled up well over 200 yards rushing in just the first half and coasted the rest of the way for the win. Curtis is now averaging an absurd 53.2 points per game, and it’d be a shocker to say the least if Friday night didn’t play out in a similar way as their Week 5 matchup against the Dragons did.
Pick: John Curtis, 52-6.
HOLY CROSS (3-2) VS. WARREN EASTON (2-2)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Tad Gormley Stadium.
Last Week: Holy Cross lost to Jesuit, 20-14, at Tad Gormley. Warren Easton defeated Landry-Walker, 33-18, at Behrman Stadium.
Notable: Holy Cross hit a speed bump last week after winning three straight games against Covington (24-14), Chalmette (35-10) and Shaw (55-13). The Tigers stormed back from a 14-0 halftime deficit to tie the game late in the third quarter, but gave up a touchdown drive in the final minutes that proved to be their undoing. Junior quarterback John Wooton completed 16-of-24 passes for 244 yards including a short touchdown pass to Alondre Wells and a 44-yard screen pass to Jalen Johnson, who made multiple defenders miss on a great catch and run to tie the game with under a minute to go in the third.
Aside from Holy Cross’ 70 and 52-yard drives, the last of which was aided by a muffed punt, the Tiger offense was held in check. The talented group seemed to have found its footing over the last three weeks averaging 38.0 points per outing, but the competition level wasn’t up to par with St. Thomas More and Jesuit. This week’s matchup against a solid Warren Easton defense that has seen three quality offenses could reveal a lot regarding where Holy Cross’ offense will stack up against stout defenses. The opposite side of the ball has been consistent week in and week out giving up a season-high 28 points in Week 1 to St. Thomas More, which has put up 56, 51, 35 and 50 points in their last four games.
Warren Easton didn’t have much trouble ousting a struggling Landry-Walker team building a 27-6 lead in the third quarter. It was the first relatively subpar opponent the Eagles faced after opening the season with games against De La Salle (W, 36-28), Karr (L, 38-12) and East Ascension (L, 42-41) on the road. Easton makes no bones about where their bread is buttered as they rely heavily on the legs of four-star running back Ashaad Clayton, but it was actually quarterback Dayshawn Holmes who did most of the damage against Landry-Walker. The senior, who made the move to quarterback just before the season following the sudden transfer of projected starter Stephen Banford Jr., rushed for just under 150 yards with a pair of scores as Easton totaled well over 300 yards on the ground. Clayton should also be well-rested for the Tigers as he missed a significant portion of the matchup against the Chargin’ Bucs for precautionary reasons.
Pick: Warren Easton, 22-14.
RUMMEL (5-0, 1-0) VS. BROTHER MARTIN (5-0, 2-0)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Where: Joe Yenni Stadium.
Notable: Rummel rolled to their second straight 40+ point win with last week’s win over Shaw. Once again, the Raiders held their opponent without a touchdown in their third shutout of the season, and no has scored more than three points on the talented unit. The group has five current Division I commitments in defensive backs Donovan Kaufman (Vanderbilt), Gavin Holmes (Colorado) and Corey Smooth (Nicholls) along with linebacker Aaron Thomas (Southern) and defensive lineman Jordon Williams (South Alabama). Senior cornerback Malik Woodery was also in that group before his de-commitment from Southern on Tuesday and 3-star defensive back Quinton Cage and junior linebacker Kolbe Fields are sure to add their names to the list of Division I commitments in due time. Fields leads the team in tackles with 25, junior defensive lineman Caboz Craig has the most tackles for loss with nine, Woodery has the most interceptions with four and Kaufman is the team leader in sacks (3), forced fumbles (2), fumble recoveries (2) and touchdowns (2). In short, this Rummel defense is STACKED, and they take great pride in their touchdown-less streak to start the season. Eventually, the streak will come to an end, but that won’t make the unit any less formidable.
On the other side of the ball, junior quarterback Kyle Wickersham has seemed to find his footing after his first five starts. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has accounted for seven touchdowns in the last two weeks with five of those coming through the air, and he’s shown some power on multiple runs bulling over defenders as well. Senior Ivory Wilright has been on the receiving end of four of Wickersham’s touchdown passes over the last two weeks, and the 1-2 backfield punch of senior Jaelen Sturgis and junior Logan Diggs should be a handful for any team to deal with.
Brother Martin has established itself as one of the metro area’s top teams after handling St. Aug last week scoring 20 unanswered points in the second half. Like Rummel, defense has been the driving force for the Crusaders as the first-team unit hasn’t given up more than 10 points in any game this season. They also forced a season-high six turnovers last week, one of which was a 45-yard interception return by Davonn Moore that essentially sealed the win.
Offensively, the running game is Brother Martin’s go-to attack and they leaned heavily on junior Jaylon Spears with 32 touches last week in the absence of senior Chris Smith. Spears’ backfield mate and the team’s leading rusher at the time of his collarbone injury against Jesuit in Week 4 had just three carries against St. Aug. All three came immediately after Spears suffered cramps late in the third quarter on what ended up being a goal line stand for the Purple Knights. It was fairly clear Smith couldn’t run with his usual physicality, and while he may see an increased workload, it’s tough to see the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder being able to produce at his usual rate. The Crusaders have played it conservatively in the passing game for the most part with sophomore Garrett Mmahat under center, but they have shown the ability to strike for big plays downfield when everything comes together.
This is undoubtedly the premier matchup in the Catholic League this week in what should be a fairly low-scoring matchup — in theory, at least.
Pick: Rummel, 14-9.
JESUIT (3-2, 1-1) VS. ST. AUGUSTINE (3-2, 0-2)
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Where: Tad Gormley Stadium.
Last Week: Jesuit beat Holy Cross, 20-14, at Tad Gormley. St. Augustine lost to Brother Martin, 27-7, at Yulman Stadium.
Live Broadcast Link: Jesuit vs. St. Augustine
Notable: Jesuit rebounded from a tough loss in Week 4 to Brother Martin with a dramatic win over Holy Cross. The Blue Jays stormed out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after a pair of touchdown passes from Grant Jordan to Luke LaForge. The Tigers fought back to tie the score, however, with two touchdown passes of their own in the third quarter leaving the two teams locked in a battle going into the last 12 minutes. Neither could put any points on the board through the first half of the fourth, but Jesuit took over at their own 19-yard line with four minutes left, and Jordan took over. The senior ripped off a 29-yard run on the first play of the drive, then had runs of 14 and 9 later in the drive. Both of those preceded a 19-yard pass to Luke Besh down to the 6-yard line, then Jordan powered his way in from five yards out on third down to give Jesuit a 20-14 lead with 1:12 left. He accounted for 79 yards on the 81-yard drive with 60 of those coming on the ground. Holy Cross threatened on the last drive completing two big passes to get near midfield, but Reed Wakefield came up with a strip-sack that was recovered by Max Jubenville to lock up the victory. The Blue Jays extended their lead in the series, which was featured on the national Great American Rivalry Series, to 58-40-1, and gained some much-needed confidence going into Saturday night’s game against the Purple Knights.
Well, it’s been a turbulent week to say the least at St. Augustine. The Purple Knights removed Nathaniel Jones as head coach after a vulgar pregame chant led by an assistant surfaced online, and Kenneth Dorsey Jr. will now be in his place. There’s been a ton of conversation surrounding the move with voices speaking up in both agreement and disagreement with the decision, but it appears the players have fallen squarely on the former. Team leader and Kansas linebacker commitment had the message that resonated most via social media posting “I have no comment for the chant incident but Coach Jones was a God fearing man who was completely against any vulgar language let alone “racial slurs.” He was a mentor who really helped a lot of us outside of football. We’re going to miss him.” The Purple Knights already had corrections to make on the field after scoring a season-low seven points last week against Brother Martin, and it appears the situation has only gotten more complicated with the decision to remove Jones.
Pick: Jesuit, 23-13.