The 2019 regular season is inching closer and closer to its conclusion, and it won’t be long until the playoffs kick off.
Week 9 in the Catholic League features the matchup we’ve all been waiting for with undefeated squads John Curtis and Rummel matching up Friday at Joe Yenni at 7 p.m. The winner will clinch at least a share of the 9-5A title before going for the outright crown with the Patriots taking on Brother Martin in Week 10 while the Raiders will face Jesuit.
Other action in the Catholic League includes the Crusaders matching up with Holy Cross on Friday while St. Aug hosts Shaw Saturday at Tad Gormley Stadium. Jesuit steps out of district play for a tough road matchup against undefeated Hahnville.
Here’s a look at each matchup, and don’t forget to check out the Catholic League individual stat leaders through Week 8.
RUMMEL (8-0, 4-0) VS. JOHN CURTIS (8-0, 4-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Joe Yenni Stadium.
Last Week: Rummel beat St. Augustine, 16-12, at Hoss Memtsas Stadium. John Curtis defeated Holy Cross, 62-31, at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.
Position-by-Position Breakdown Preview: John Curtis, Rummel set for most anticipated matchup of the season: Position-by-Position Breakdown
Notable: There are three things I’m going to be late to the party on: 1) Foreseeing the fall of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick duo 2) Anticipating the demise of Alabama football under Nick Saban and 3) Predicting John Curtis to take a Catholic League loss under J.T. Curtis.
The Patriots have won 23 consecutive games in the league and another on Friday will set them up for a chance to secure their fourth straight undefeated run through 9-5A. The offense has been unstoppable averaging 52.3 yards per game, and they’ve unsurprisingly dominated on the ground totaling 371.1 yards per game. They have the top two rushers in the league in Army quarterback commitment Collin Guggenheim and Georgia running back commitment Corey Wren who have combined for 1,846 yards with 29 touchdowns on 166 carries. That’s good for an average of 11.1 yards with each touch, but they haven’t seen a defense like Rummel’s. It’s truly a matchup of strength-on-strength, and the higher the score, the more the contest tilts in Curtis’ favor.
Enough cannot be said about this Rummel defense. The Purple Knights put up 12 points last week, but none of them came against this airtight defense. It looked like the Raiders were finally about to give up their second touchdown of the season late in the third quarter, but defensive end Jordon Williams deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage that was intercepted by Sean Grimes at the Raiders’ own 2-yard line. There haven’t been many occasions where Rummel has found itself in its own red zone, but they’ve answered the call all but one time when Holy Cross completed a short 37-yard touchdown drive with a 1-yard run.
They haven’t seen an offense as powerful and unorthodox as Curtis, though, and it stands to reason they’ll give up more points than they’re accustomed to. The key for the Raiders is to prevent this one from becoming a shootout as they’ve had trouble putting points on the board at times. They’ve been held to 17 points or fewer in four games this season, and were shut out Week 1 in North Carolina against Charlotte Catholic. As mentioned last week, though, Curtis has shown their defense is capable of being exploited in the passing game, and Rummel does have a pair of playmakers at the receiver spot in LSU commitment Koy Moore and senior Ivory Wilright.
Pick: John Curtis, 20-17.
HAHNVILLE (8-0) VS. JESUIT (5-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Hahnville High.
Last Week: Hahnville defeated H.L. Bourgeois, 35-7, at home. Jesuit defeated Shaw, 34-3, at Joe Zimmerman Stadium.
Notable: Hahnville took care of business last week against a now 1-7 H.L. Bourgeois team taking a 28-0 lead into halftime. The Tigers looked every bit of the No. 1 team in 5A, which is where they currently sit in the LHSAA’s latest power rankings. The two-headed attack of Darryle Evans and Trey LaBranch in the backfield has been the catalyst for the Tigers all season and they’ll certainly look to get those two going again against the Blue Jays. Evans is the primary threat here, and while the Tigers didn’t need much from the 6-foot, 195-pounder last week, he stepped up big in their previous, 42-30, win over Central Lafourche rushing for 234 yards with four touchdowns. It was the sixth time this season Hahnville put up at least 34 points, and the team is now averaging 34.9 points per outing while giving up 14.9 per game. Their average margin of victory is 20.0 points per game and they’ve blown by lesser opponents while also showing they can compete in close games against better teams. This one is likely to fall in the latter, but the Tigers will be determined to keep their unbeaten record in tact.
Jesuit is quietly on a bit of a hot streak winning three of its last four games with the only loss coming to still-undefeated John Curtis. The Bleu Jays rolled last week totaling just over 400 yards of offense while scoring on its first five possessions of the game. Senior quarterback Grant Jordan had another strong outing completing 17-of-26 attempts for 216 yards and a touchdown while rushing for two more scores. The defense also did its part holding Shaw to under 100 yards of offense, but the rest of Jesuit’s schedule will present a more difficult challenge starting this week versus Hahnville before closing out the regular season against Rummel. The Blue Jays got a first-hand look at Hahnville during a jamboree double-header that featured Jesuit taking on Bonnabel before the Tigers suited up against Grace King, but a good bit has changed for both teams since August 29. As has been detailed before and throughout the season, Jesuit’s strength lies up front, which should give them a chance to slow down Evans. Still, the Tigers are a hot, confident team, and while I wouldn’t put it past Jesuit to hand them their first loss of the year, I do think Hahnville has the edge heading into this one.
Pick: Hahnville, 17-13.
BROTHER MARTIN (7-1, 3-1) VS. HOLY CROSS (4-4, 1-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Tad Gormley Stadium.
Last Week: Brother Martin beat Terrebonne, 14-9, on the road. Holy Cross lost John Curtis, 62-31, at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.
Notable: For the first time this season, Brother Martin’s offense failed to find the end zone, but the defense held firm once again. They not only shutout Terrebonne’s talented offense, but put up eight points of their own on a safety and an Adam Randolph strip and fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown. While Rummel’s defense has deservedly received most of the attention this season, Brother Martin’s unit has quietly pieced together an incredibly impressive season. The first-team defense hasn’t allowed more than one touchdowns in any game this year, and the Crusaders are allowing just 7.6 points per game. Offensively, they have one of the best rushing attacks in the metro area with senior Chris Smith and Jaylon Spears checking in at Nos. 4 and 5 among Catholic League rushers.
Holy Cross’ offense erupted for 31 points with 315 yards in just the first half last week, but they still trailed Curtis by 11 at the break. It was by far the toughest outing of the year for a good Tigers defense who’s previous season high in points allowed was 28 in Week 1 to a high-powered St. Thomas More team, and even then they forced four turnovers. They just couldn’t contain the unorthodox veer-option attack of the Patriots as they scored touchdowns on five of their first 10 plays. Luckily for the Tigers, they’ll see a more traditional style of offense against the Crusaders, and if the offense can sustain its first-half level of play from last week they’ll have a chance.
I’m tempted to pick the upset here, but there’s just not enough evidence to suggest the Crusader defense will falter, even against a very talented Holy Cross team whose record doesn’t really reflect how good they are.
Pick: Brother Martin, 20-14.
ST. AUGUSTINE (4-4, 0-4) VS. SHAW (2-6, 0-5)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Where: Tad Gormley Stadium.
Last Week: St. Augustine lost to Rummel, 16-12, at Hoss Memtsas Stadium. Shaw lost to Jesuit, 34-3, at home.
Notable: St. Augustine seems to rise to the occasion against their toughest opponents, and they’ve come the closes to knocking off the Catholic League’s top two teams in John Curtis and Rummel. The Purple Knights had a chance to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter against the Patriots in Week 4, and held a 12-9 lead over Rummel going into the fourth quarter last week. While the Purple Knights don’t take much solace in moral victories, it does show what they’re capable of during any given week. The defense has playmakers all over the field including Kansas commitment Taiwan Berryhill at linebacker, ball-hawking safeties in Tahj Adams and Edward Gilds III, and two book-end pass-rushers in senior Kendal Rowan and junior Byron Turner Jr. The list could certainly go on and they played up to their potential last week keeping Rummel under wraps for the vast majority of the game. Offensively, bruising sophomore running back Justin Doyle is beginning to emerge as a big threat while quarterback Kendell Sampson Jr. has multiple threats at receiver to get the ball to.
It was another rough week for a young Shaw team as they dropped their fifth straight game following a 2-1 start. They simply couldn’t get anything going offensively against a tough, disciplined Jesuit team failing to reach the 100-yard mark in total offense. If there was any good news, it was that the Eagles did get back senior safety Dorian Lewis, who recorded eight tackles in his return. Sophomore defensive back Mike Newton also continued to produce at a high level for Shaw’s defense totaling eight tackles, three of which went for a loss. He’s now second in the Catholic League in tackles while junior linebacker Ardell Reed is fourth with 52. The Eagles will likely have another tough time against the Purple Knights this week, but have a chance to close the season with a win taking on 1-7 H.L. Bourgeois.
Pick: St. Augustine, 32-13.