If you’re tied of hearing and reading about the Rummel defense, this is not the article for you.
The vaunted Raider defensive unit put forth yet another virtuoso performance holding its sixth opponent to 0 points, and they also scored two touchdowns of their own in a 27-0 win over district foe Jesuit Friday night at Tad Gormley Stadium.
The victory put an exclamation point on a perfect 10-0 (6-0) regular season for the Raiders, which means they are your new Catholic League champion securing the district title for the first time since 2015.
“This feels great,” said junior linebacker Kolbe Fields, who increased Rummel’s lead to 14-0 in the second quarter with a 19-yard pick-6. “Since I’ve been at Rummel we’ve never had this feeling before. We’re 10-0 and it feels great.”
“Honestly, this is what we come to Rummel for,” senior defensive back Quinton “Pig” Cage added. “Their program was built off of winning and we just wanted to bring the tradition back this year.”
The Raiders have rode their defense all season long with the unit giving up just 33 points all season (3.3 per game), and seven of those came in last week’s thrilling, 21-20, overtime win over previously undefeated John Curtis.
It wouldn’t have been out of the question for the Raiders to have a letdown after such an emotional win, but the defense, especially, just wouldn’t have it coming up with six stops inside their own 31-yard line.
They forced four incompletions on fourth down in those instances, had an incredible leaping interception by Vanderbilt commitment Donovan Kaufman, and Jesuit missed a 35-yard field goal just before halftime in what turned out to be their best chance at putting points on the board.
“We had our chances and we just didn’t score and get points,” Jesuit (6-4, 4-3) coach Mark Songy said. “You get that many opportunities and you don’t come away with scores, that hurts a lot. Against a good team like this, you rarely get those chances, and we had four or five and just didn’t put it in.”
“We dogs and we’re hungry!” said Fields what has allowed the Raiders to keep opponents from reaching the end zone when their deep in their own territory.
“It’s in our heart,” Cage added. “We call ourselves gorillas and you’ve gotta be a gorilla when you in that jungle. (Deep in our own territory), that’s the jungle and we’ve gotta get that stop.”
Those multiple stops kept Rummel at a safe distance following a slow start on a chilly November night.
The score was knotted at 0-0 going into the second quarter, but Rummel broke through with a 9-play, 66-yard that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Kyle Wickersham to junior receiver Keith Robertson with 6:27 to go until halftime.
Not even 20 seconds later in actual game time, the Raiders struck again when Fields snagged a Jesuit pass out of the air before coasting 19 yards for a 14-0 lead with 6:08 left in the second.
“I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve got to give it up to Corey Smooth,” said Fields referencing the senior defensive back who re-opened his recruitment yesterday after being committed to Nicholls. “He told me they were going to throw that quick slant and to watch out for it. I missed in the first quarter and I said I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.”
Rummel took that 14-0 advantage into intermission, and a 71-yard hookup from Wickersham to LSU receiver commitment Koy Moore set up a 19-yard field goal by Patrick Vanderbrook midway through the third.
The reliable senior added one more field goal from 29 yards out a few possessions later with 6:29 left in the game, and former Southern cornerback commitment Malik Woodery had the last score of the night bringing an interception back 31 yards for an insurmountable 27-0 lead with 6:22 to play.
The Raiders will almost assuredly be the No. 1 seed in Division I when playoff pairings are released this coming Sunday. That means they’ll get a bye during the first round into the quarterfinals where they’ll face the 8th or 9th seeded team.
Jesuit is likely to fall at No. 5 or 6 in Division I, and they won’t be an easy out heading into the playoffs winning four of their last six games with their only losses coming to Rummel and Curtis, which have a combined record of 19-1.
“I think we’re fairly healthy and we’ll bounce back,” said Songy, whose team knocked off previously undefeated Hahnville last week, 24-14. “This is a resilient group of guys, they’ve been working their tails off and we’ve been playing some good football. We just made too many mistakes against a great, talented team. I don’t know who we’re going to have but we’ll find out Sunday.”
Rummel meanwhile will be looking to make good use of the upcoming time off, and while they’re excited to be Catholic League champions, they still want more from the 2019 season.
“We’ve just got to stay humble and keep working, we can’t settle for this,” Wickersham said. “We want to be district champs but this is not our ultimate goal, we want to be state champions. In order to do that we’ve got to stay focused and prepare every single week as if we’re playing the top team in the country.
“I think our coaches do a really good job preparing us for that,” he added. “They will never let us slack. If they see us slacking they’ll run us to death, so we’ve just got to come out and do what we normally do.”
Rummel: 283 yards of total offense (85 rushing, 198 passing)
Jesuit: 263 yards of total offense (91 rushing, 172 passing)
Rushing: Jaelen Sturgis, 6-44 (*had a 50-yard run); Logan Diggs, 7-23; Kyle Wickersham, 8-14; Logan Bertucci, 2-4.
Receiving: Koy Moore, 8-118; Ivory Wilright, 3-34; Keith Robertson, 1-14, 1 TD; Tyler Cook, 1-12; Logan Diggs, 2-11.
Passing: Kyle Wickersham, 15-25, 189 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs.
Rushing: Jalen Williams, 12-41; Grant Jordan, 17-27 (*lost 53 yards on sacks); Rader Jackson, 6-14; Jack Larriviere, 1-9.
Receiving: Luke LaForge, 5-80; Luke Besh, 4-39; Rader Jackson, 2-25; Dennis Dougherty, 1-16; Jack Larriviere, 2-8; Grant Moreau, 1-4.
Passing: Grant Jordan, 14-38, 156 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs.
Rummel — Keith Robertson 14 pass from Kyle Wickersham (Patrick Vanderbrook kick), 6:27, 7-0.
Rummel — Kolbe Fields 19 interception return (Vanderbrook kick), 6:08, 14-0.
Rummel — Vanderbrook 19 field goal, 5:57, 17-0.
Rummel — Vanderbrook 29 field goal, 6:39, 20-0.
Rummel — Malik Woodery 31 interception return (Vanderbrook kick), 6:22, 27-0.
NEXT UP: Rummel and Jesuit will await their matchups for the Division I playoffs, which are set to be revealed on Sunday. The Raiders entered the week at No. 1 in the LHSAA’s latest Division I power rankings while Jesuit was No. 5. Rummel will most certainly receive a bye into the quarterfinals while Jesuit is likely to remain at No. 5 or possibly slip to No. 6. Either way, they’ll have a first round matchup against the 12th or 11th seeded team.