By William Weathers
All he caught were touchdowns.
For one week, that portrayed the record-setting contributions of Archbishop Rummel junior wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the Raiders’ season-opening 28-14 victory over University High.
Chase would love nothing more than to continue that trend, taking over the role as Rummel’s No. 1 play-making option after the Raiders graduated several of their top threats from last year’s Division I state runners-up.
“I’ve been thinking about it since I got to Rummel,” Chase said. “I always wanted to be a main person on the team.”
Never, though, had Chase approached such a historical outing as the one in Rummel’s opener, which because of lightning and heavy rain, was stretched over the course of two evenings.
Chase was responsible for a pair of school single-game records with 226 receiving yards and four touchdowns on four catches, helping the Raiders fend off the Cubs, the No. 8 team in Class 3A.
“We saw it last year when he was a sophomore in a scrimmage, that he had the potential to be a real good football player which he’s blossomed into,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “Hopefully he can be one of our play-makers; guys that make plays.”
Roth explained the natural progression most wide receivers are charged with making in Rummel’s program.
Chase, who caught 21 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns last season, is the latest receiver to make the transition from the slot receiver to the outside where the Raiders perennially have more of a veteran presence.
“It’s kind of the role we have for young guys at Rummel; start off inside and the older guys are outside,” Roth said. “Now he’s an experienced receiver and moves to the outside. He lines up all over. We’ll also put him in motion. He’s very versatile.”
Said Chase, “I’m going to be a leader by showing it in practice and on the field. I have to lead regardless. I played last year and know what’s going to happen in the game.”
Chase’s first score – a 13-yarder in the first quarter – was rather pedestrian compared to how the remainder of the game unfolded; including having the game suspended and resumed on Saturday evening.
Chase and senior quarterback, Jacob Palma, where just getting warmed up.
The duo connected on an 82-yarder in which Chase had to out-jump a defender, make another miss and turned on what Roth refers to as “deceiving” speed en route to giving Rummel a 14-0 lead at the 8:16 mark of the second quarter.
“He’s got a long stride and it looks like he’s not moving that fast,” Roth said.
Chase’s final two scores came in handy with University twice cutting into a pair of two-touchdown deficits, enabling Rummel to secure the victory.
Chase’s 69-yard score made it 21-7 and followed that with a 70-yard strike in the fourth quarter that accounted for the final score and allowed him to pass Cyril Grayson’s mark of 220 yards and three touchdowns held by three players.
“I worked very hard this summer, worked with a lot of different people that helped me get better at things I wasn’t good at,” Chase said. “I’ve developed and know how to do it. After the game I found out about the records. Now I want to push them even higher.”
Chase said that the opening-game connection he enjoyed with Palma was the result of the additional throwing that began in the spring and carried into the summer.
The 6-foot, 193-pounder also credited his work at summer camps at TCU, Ole Miss and Florida – all of which have offered scholarships – where he worked on his route running and catching techniques.
Chase also has received offers from Cincinnati, Kansas, Texas Tech and Memphis.
“The week before he didn’t catch a pass in the jamboree,” Roth said. “We have a nice receiving corps and they feed off each other. If people concentrate on him (Chase), we’ve got some guys that can run and catch. It’s a nice problem to have with four receivers that can play.”
And an emerging star in Ja’Marr Chase.