Top-seeded Rummel is set to put its unbeaten mark on the line Friday night against No. 8 St. Augustine at Joe Yenni Stadium at 7 p.m. The two Catholic League foes are more than familiar with one another having met 12 times over the last 11 seasons with Rummel taking eight of those matchups, which includes a 16-12 victory in Week 8 over the Purple Knights.
It was the Raiders’ closest margin-of-victory of the season as St. Aug proved to themselves and everyone else that they’re capable of competing with the top teams in the state. They’re also coming off a thrilling 45-40 win over Byrd last week, and they’re salivating at the opportunity to spoil Rummel’s perfect season with an unexpected loss in the Division I Quarterfinals.
Here’s a look at the key players for each team at each position, and be sure to check out the Catholic League predictions and capsules for this game as well as both matchups including the district’s other three teams in No. 3 John Curtis, No. 4 Brother Martin and No. 6 Jesuit.
Rummel — Junior Kyle Wickersham’s first season as a starter is nearing its end as the Raiders have three games remaining at most in the 2019 season. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder finished fourth in the Catholic League in passing yards with 1,241 yards, 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions while completing 104 of his 175 attempts (59.4%).
In the last meeting against, St. Aug, Wickersham had a modest performance going 7-of-12 for 84 yards with no touchdowns and two pics, both of which came off were tipped at the line of scrimmage. Overall, though, he’s done a good job protecting the football, and is also a threat to take off and run when flushed from the pocket.
St. Augustine — Like Wickersham, Kendell Sampson Jr. is about to wrap up his first full season as a starter. He did see some action last year, though, which helped him to a third-place finish in 9-5A during the regular season with 1,573 yards and 17 touchdowns to nine interceptions completing 135 of 226 attempts (59.7%). The junior was extremely efficient last week going 16-of-19 for 171 yards with a pair of scores in a high-scoring game against Byrd, but was held to 55 yards with no scores and two interceptions in a 10-for-19 performance against Rummel in Week 8.
Rummel — The duo of junior Logan Diggs and senior Jalen Sturgis has been the heart of the Rummel offense all season. They finished the regular season fifth and eighth in the Catholic League in rushing with 723 and 478 yards combing for seven touchdowns with an average of 5.6 yards per carry. They put up similar numbers in the Week 8 meeting against St. Aug with Diggs totaling 101 yards with the game-winning touchdown run while Sturgis had 46 yards with the Raiders’ only other touchdown of the game.
St. Augustine — A three-headed attack in the backfield is the Purple Knights’ approach led by senior Mahmood Bailey and sophomore Justin Doyle along with junior Albert Quest V. The big, bruising Doyle had seemed to take the lead in the backfield over the last few weeks of the regular season, but Bailey had arguably his best outing of the season last week against Byrd rushing for three touchdowns including a game-winning 33-yard score.
Doyle’s physicality, however, led to him leading the group in rushing last time out against Rummel with 64 yards on 14 carries. St. Aug has a ton of versatility in its backfield, and any of the three could make an impact on any given possession.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Rummel — As many know at this point, LSU commitment Koy Moore and Ivory Wilright IV are the go-to options for Rummel in the passing game. Moore finished fifth in 9-5A with 468 yards and three touchdowns on 39 catches while Wilright was seventh with 378 yards including seven scores on 24 receptions. Both have extremely reliable hands, and the Raiders will also make use of juniors Keith Robertson and Tyler Cook on occasion as well.
St. Augustine — The Purple Knights have a plethora of options in their passing game, but junior Tylie Keasley and senior Memphis commitment Khi Mathieu have seemed to take the lead roles as of late. After zero touchdown catches over the first nine weeks, Keasley now has three in the last two weeks including two in an overtime loss against Holy Cross in Week 10. He had eight grabs for 121 yards in that matchup while Mathieu had seven catches for 80 yards. They finished 8th and 10th in 9-5A in receiving yards with 300 on 21 catches and 290 on 22 catches.
Other St. Aug pass-catchers to keep an eye out for including senior Jaheim Walters, senior Josh White, junior August Banks Jr., senior tight end Gregory Norman III, and sophomore receiver Joseph Miller if healthy.
Rummel — There are no “marquee” names in this group, but they’ve done a solid job for much of the season creating lanes for Diggs and Sturgis while giving Wickersham time in the pocket. They’re a mostly veteran group with with three seniors and two juniors led by seniors Anthony Harrison and Brenton Bachemin.
St. Augustine — Like Rummel, the Purple Knights don’t have any marquee names up front, but they’re a veteran group led by a trio of seniors in Semaj Payton, Vincent Joseph and Corey Crump. They’re a big group that seem to be more comfortable getting downhill in the run game, but the Purple Knights have throw it more than enough for them find their rhythm in pass protection as well.
Rummel — In an extremely deep group among Catholic League teams, Rummel still has two of 9-5A’s better defensive lineman in senior Jordon Williams and junior Caboz Craig. Williams, a former South Alabama commitment, has been a force all season totaling 62 tackles with nine for loss and six sacks with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, one of which went for a touchdown.
Craig is undersized at the defensive tackle spot, but has still been very productive with 51 tackles with 11 for loss and 3.5 sacks with a forced fumble. He has received some interest from a few college programs, but if his 5-foot-9, 225-pound frame had filled out more, he’d be a bonafide Division I prospect.
St. Augustine — The Purple Knight defensive line has a case for the deepest, most talented unit in the Catholic League. Junior defensive end Byron Turner Jr. is an SEC-level player while the opposite end senior Kendal Rowan should also find himself on a college roster next season. Turner Jr. finished the season third on the team in tackles with 39 while recording seven sacks with five tackles for loss and an interception, which came against Rummel in the two teams’ last meeting. Rowan ended the regular season with 26 takedowns including five sacks, four forced fumbles, three tackles for loss and two interceptions.
At tackles, senior Future Lee Jr. and sophomore Bishop Thomas hold down the fort in the interior. Lee Jr. totaled 32 tackles with one for loss and a fumble recovery while Thomas, one of the state’s rising 2022 prospects, had 34 tackles with four sacks and three tackles for loss with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Rummel — The Raiders have two more Division I prospects in this group in junior Kolbe Fields and senior Aaron Thomas. Fields has reported previous interest from Tulane, Colorado and South Alabama while Thomas is committed to Southern. Fields finished the regular season as the team’s second-leading tackler with 71 including 8 tackles for loss with 3.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 4 pass breakups.
Thomas, who may be helped the most by the bye week as he’s been battling multiple injuries throughout the year, totaled 65 tackles with 8 going for loss as well as a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and two interceptions, one of which went for a touchdown in Rummel’s 7-3 win over Charlotte Catholic (NC) in Week 1.
St. Augustine — St. Aug boasts a talented group of linebackers in hard-hitting seniors Jabaz Myles, Kevin Cooley Jr. and Kansas commitment Taiwan Berryhill. Despite both missing one game, Myles and Cooley Jr. led the Purple Knights in tackles with 44 and 40, respectively, while Berryhill was fourth with 38. The Kansas pledge also had a scoop and score for a touchdown last week against Byrd, which was his second score of the year after a pick-6 for a score earlier in the year.
Rummel — As mentioned before, this is likely the deepest group of Rummel’s insanely talented defense. Vanderbilt commitment Donovan Kaufman is an absolute stud is who is severely underrated on the national scene despite being a 3-star prospect. He ended the season as the team’s leading tackler with 75, and also stuffed the stat sheet with 7 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 5 pass break ups, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 touchdowns.
Alongside him are safeties Corey Smooth, a former Nicholls commitment, Quinton Cage, a 3-star prospect, and senior Sean Grimes, who also has the talent to potentially find himself on a college roster. Holding down the cornerback positions are former Colorado commitment Gavin Holmes and former Southern commitment Malik Woodery.
Holmes hasn’t been targeted a ton and doesn’t have an interception this season, but the other five including Kaufman have combined for 15 with Woodery snagging five pics to Smooth’s four, Grimes’ two and Cage’s one.
St. Augustine — While St. Aug’s secondary may not measure up Rummel’s man-for-man, the Purple Knights still have a very talented group in the back end. Senior Tahj Adams has been a playmaker all season racking up 36 tackles with 3 fumble recoveries and 3 interceptions, one of which went for a touchdown in Week 8 against Rummel for the first of two defensive scores.
Cornerback Damon McFarland Jr. is a potential Division I prospect and junior Edward Gilds III is tied for the team lead with Adams in interceptions with three. Gilds has also totaled 34 tackles on the season to McFarland Jr.’s 25.
Rummel — Rummel has one of the two most reliable kickers in the Catholic League in senior Patrick Vanderbrook. He’s nearly automatic on extra points with range over the 40-yard mark in field goals, and routinely boots the ball out of the back of the end zone on kickoffs while also handling the punting duties.
In the return game, the Raiders have arguably the most dangerous return man in the league in Donovan Kaufman, who always seems to come up with a big return just when Rummel needs it. Corey Smooth and Koy Moore are also more than capable of making big plays in the return game as well.
St. Augustine — The Purple Knights have struggled with kicks in general for much of the season, but Jaron Marks III has been fairly reliable with his extra points.
In the return game, senior Jaheim Walters has proven his big-play capabilities on multiple occasions with kickoff returns for touchdowns against Rummel and Shaw in back-to-back weeks. Senior Josh White is also a shifty, speedy player who hasn’t had a ton of opportunities, but is always dangerous when he gets his hands on the ball.
Rummel Head Coach Nick Monica:
St. Augustine Interim Coach Kenneth Dorsey Jr.:
St. Augustine WR/Memphis Commitment Khi Mathieu:
2019: Rummel, 16-12 (Week 8)
2018: Rummel, 38-14 (Week 10)
2017: St. Aug, 20-17 (Week 10)
2016: St. Aug, 20-7 (Week 10)
2015: Rummel, 30-12 (Week 10)
2014: Rummel, 35-6 (Week 7)
2013: St. Aug, 35-21 (Week 7) | Rummel, 31-28 (Division I Semifinals)
2012: Rummel, 42-18 (Week 3)
2011: Rummel, 41-22 (Week 3)
2010: St. Aug, 38-14 (Week 9)
2009: Rummel, 7-6 (Week 9)