We’re down to the final three weeks of the regular season and things are about to get interesting in the Catholic League. The showdown between undefeated teams John Curtis and Rummel is on the horizon in Week 9, but first the Patriots and Raiders have to take care of business this week against Holy Cross and St. Augustine.
Third-place Brother Martin is the team stepping out of league play this week traveling to Terrebonne for a tough matchup, and Jesuit heading to Shaw wraps up the schedule for the week.
Here’s a look at each matchup and what to expect, and don’t forget to check out the Catholic League Stat Leaders as well as the soon-to-come position-by-position breakdown of the Curtis vs. Holy Cross contest.
HOLY CROSS (4-3, 1-2) VS. JOHN CURTIS (7-0, 3-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.
Preview Story: Position-by-Position Breakdown coming soon…
Notable: Holy Cross has shown continual improvement week-to-week aside from a Week 5 hiccup against Jesuit, but the Blue Jays are also a quality team. The Tigers played Rummel tougher than any other in-state team this season as the Raiders’ previous margin of victory against Louisiana opponents was 37.5. Holy Cross also scored the first touchdown of the season against the Rummel defense on a 1-yard run by junior Jaden Handy in the third quarter that cut the score to 14-0. The previous play was likely the key to the 37-yard scoring drive as quarterback John Dade Wooton escaped a sack and was carried about four yards to the 1-yard line by Tulane offensive line commitment Josh Remetich.
The Tiger defense did its part once again holding Rummel to just one field goal over their last nine possessions, and Louisiana Tech linebacker commitment Tyler Grubbs blocked a punt near the end of the game. Holy Cross actually outscored Rummel, 7-3, in the second half, but Friday’s matchup against Curtis should be a bit more high scoring. Before last week’s matchup, the Tigers had scored at least 35 points in three of their last four games while Curtis has given up at least 21 in four games, although that number could be a bit misleading.
I guess you could say John Curtis’ offense was “slowed down” last week as they were held to “just” 35 points, which was a season-low by one point. The Patriots put up 21 of those in the first quarter on a pair of touchdown runs by Georgia running back commitment Corey Wren and another by Army quarterback commitment Collin Guggenheim. Their 21-7 lead at the break swelled to 35-7 early in the fourth quarter as they extended their Catholic League winning streak to 22 games.
In no surprise to anyone paying relatively close attention, the Patriots continue to be a machine that performs consistently week in and week out. A few teams have had some success through the air against Curtis, but that wasn’t the case last week for Jesuit as they held the Blue Jays to 146 yards passing with senior Dante Thomas intercepting two passes. Holy Cross prefers to move the ball through the air as well, so Curtis’ secondary will likely see a lot of action this coming Friday.
Pick: John Curtis, 37-24.
SHAW (2-5, 0-4) VS. JESUIT (4-3, 2-2)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Joe Zimmerman Stadium at Shaw.
Notable: Shaw has fallen on tough times after starting the season 2-1, and they won’t see a non-Catholic League opponent until Week 10 against H.L. Bourgeois. The schedule doesn’t let up this week either against a Jesuit team who will be hungry to get back in the win column. Meanwhile, the situation went awry quickly for the Eagles last week as they fell behind 51-0 by halftime. The Eagles finally got on the board in the fourth quarter scoring on their last three possessions with long touchdown connections of 58, 64 and 69 yards. Freshman Michael Williams had the first and third score while junior Karl Davis had the second, all on throws from Tyler Nichol. The senior made his return from injury last week completing 10-of-21 passes for 220 yards, but most of the that yardage came with the game well-decided. Defensively, the Eagles are missing two of their best players in senior safety Dorian Lewis and junior defensive end Baron Miles, who is out for the year with a torn ACL. Shaw does still have a few young, talented players in the lineup, though, including sophomore Mike Newton is fifth in the Catholic League in tackles with 45 and junior Ardell Reed is ninth with 44. The Eagles are just going to have to take their lumps this season, but they could be a factor in the years to come, especially with 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore quarterback transfer Stephen Banford Jr. coming into the fold early next season.
As most teams do, Jesuit struggled last week against John Curtis. They fell behind 21-7 at halftime and 35-7 early in the fourth as the Patriots asserted their will on the matchup. Senior Grant Jordan, the Catholic League’s second-leading passer, was held to under 150 yards passing and the Patriot defense also stepped up with two interceptions. Jordan and the Blue Jays will have an easier time this week, though, before the competition ramps up again with matchups at Hahnville and against Rummel in Weeks 9 and 10.
Pick: Jesuit, 34-13.
TERREBONNE (4-3) VS. BROTHER MARTIN (6-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Terrebonne High.
Notable: Terrebonne has had more of an up-and-down season than expected, and their talent level makes them a threat against any team week in and week out. Their best win of the season was in Week 6 taking down Destrehan, 30-22, but couldn’t get the better of the their other three quality opponents in Jesuit (24-7) in Week 1 and Hahnville (34-27) and Thibodaux (35-28) in Weeks 4 and 5. They won their other three games against Ellender, South Terrebonne and H.L. Bourgeois by an average of 43 points, teams that are 43rd, 26th, and 48th in their respective classes of 4A and 5A. The Tigers’ top two players are Florida State commitment Ja’Khi Douglas and junior 5-star defensive lineman Maason Smith. Douglas is actually a receiver by trade but serves as the quarterback for Terrebonne, and he along with Smith have already been featured in our weekly series of “Unofficial Visits” with some of Louisiana’s top prospects.
Brother Martin got back on the winning track as expected last week against Shaw. The Crusaders stormed out to a 23-0 lead in the first quarter that ballooned to 51-0 by halftime and never looked back. It was a welcome win for Brother Martin after suffering its first loss of the season against Rummel the previous week. The Crusaders were able to get their starters plenty of rest throughout the second half, and in even better news, senior running back Chris Smith looked to be near full strength after suffering a collarbone injury in Week 4. Smith is fifth in the Catholic League in rushing with 489 yards while teammate Jaylon Spears is just ahead of him with 492 yards. Look for the Crusaders to work to get their ground game established against a tough Terrebonne defensive line front that also includes an up-and-coming sophomore in Kadan Lewis.
Pick: Brother Martin, 27-17.
RUMMEL (7-0, 3-0) VS. ST. AUGUSTINE (4-3, 0-3)
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Joe Yenni Stadium.
Notable: Rummel remained unbeaten with last week’s win over Holy Cross, but it wasn’t as easy as their previous four outings against in-state opponents. The Raiders dominated Slidell, Ruston, Shaw and Brother Martin shutting out all four while winning by an average of 37.5. Against the Tigers, though, it took a 33-yard field goal by Patrick Vanderbrook with three seconds left in the third to go up by two scores, which was enough to seal a Raider victory. Rummel was actually outscored, 7-3, over the last 3 1/2 quarters after scoring on its first two possessions, but they also had a fumbled snap on a 40-yard field goal on their third drive and missed a 49-yard field goal just before halftime.
Defensively, the streak of six games without giving up a touchdown finally came to an end after a 37-yard touchdown drive by Holy Cross in the third quarter. If the Raiders want to hone in on a new goal, though, they still haven’t given up more than one score in any game this season, and opponents are averaging a measly 1.9 points per game against them. This group wasn’t happy to see their streak come to an end, and my guess is they take it out on St. Augustine, who has struggled at times offensively this season.
There may have been no team more in need of a win last week than St. Augustine. The Purple Knights were in the midst of a 3-game losing streak while also seeing their head coach lose his job, but are now back in the win column after a convincing non-district win over Helen Cox. Junior quarterback Kendell Sampson Jr. got the job done with both his legs and his arms throwing for 156 with a score while rushing for 74 with another touchdown. The Purple Knights’ power back sophomore Justin Doyle also ran for 74 yards with a pair of scores in what was a high-tempo attack offensively that resulted in six touchdowns.
St. Augustine actually scored seven touchdowns on the day, though, and the other came from linebacker Savon Goodwin on a pick-6. Junior safety Edward Gilds III also came up with a pair of picks as the Purple Knight defense forced a total of five turnovers in the game. It was the fourth time this season they’ve held an opponent to 13 or fewer points and the group has the potential to keep St. Aug in the game for a while, but the Raiders will likely be too much for them in this one.
Pick: Rummel, 27-0.