VSN and the NOLA Catholic League is here to give the people what they want, and after 79% of you voted in favor of a position-by-position breakdown over the traditional preview format via our Twitter poll, here it is again this week.
Week 7 in the Catholic League pits a still-undefeated Rummel (6-0, 2-0) team against Holy Cross (4-2, 1-1) Friday night at Tad Gormley Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
The Raiders are coming off a 30-0 victory over previously undefeated Brother Martin while the Tigers took down Warren Easton, 49-26, in even more convincing fashion than the final score would suggest. There’s a ton of talent on both sides in what should be an intriguing matchup, so let’s get to it.
You can also check out my pick for this game here (coming soon) and last week’s position-by-position breakdown between Rummel and Brother Martin here.
Rummel — Junior Kyle Wickersham is getting more experienced and confident by the week in his first year as a starter. His numbers were modest in last week’s win over Brother Martin completing 5-of-12 passes for 66 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but that excludes a 45-yard swing pass that was retroactively counted as a run. He also had a couple of big runs that were called back on penalties, one of which was a 32-yard touchdown. Over the last three weeks, the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has accounted for nine touchdowns as a passer and runner.
Holy Cross — Junior John Dade Wooton is in his first full year as a starter, but saw significant time last year as a sophomore. He had a huge game in last week’s win over Warren Easton completing 21-of-28 passes, which included a 15-for-16 stretch to start the game, for 286 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s a pure pocket passer who is relied on heavily in the Tigers’ pass-first offense, and he’ll need to find the tough balance of being careful with the football while still looking to make plays against a sensational Rummel defense.
Rummel — Junior Logan Diggs had one of his best outings of the season on the ground last week rushing 16 times for 143 yards with a 45-yard touchdown. He’s a dual-threat in the passing game as well, and will is also prone to take snaps as a Wildcat quarterback flanked by either defensive back Corey Smooth and/or his fellow backfield mate Jaelen Sturgis. The bruising back also had 16 carries last week for 58 yards, and his presence next to Diggs makes for a tangible threat to any opposing defense.
Holy Cross — The Tigers have a few different options they can go to at the running back spot between senior Celven Hulbert and juniors Jaden Handy and Amiri Franklin. Hulbert and Handy have the most carries with 45 and 35 attempts for 262 and 103 yards, but Franklin has the most yards per carry with 218 yards on 25 attempts. Franklin also has a pair of touchdowns on the season including one last week against Easton while Handy and Hulbert have four and three, respectively. Hulbert was last week’s leading rusher with 72 yards on five carries including a 66-yard on the first play of the third quarter.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Rummel — As noted last week, the Raiders primarily rely on LSU commitment Koy Moore and senior Ivory Wilright in the passing game. The latter has 14 catches for 240 yards with six touchdowns including last week’s 2-catch, 57-yard performance with a 44-yard score last week against Brother Martin. Moore went up high to snag a screen on his one catch for no yards, and now has 16 catches for 176 yards with two touchdowns this season.
Coach Nick Monica made it a point to mention getting Moore more involved in the offense, but those numbers are mostly due to: 1) four blowouts where the Raiders rarely threw the ball for most of the second half, if at all 2) Rummel being a primarily run-first team, which dates back to even last season and further, and 3) A ton of attention coverage-wise being shifted towards Moore, which has opened up the field for Wilright, who has five touchdowns in the last three games.
In short, just in case you were even beginning to question it, Koy Moore is still Koy Moore.
Holy Cross — As previously mentioned, Holy Cross is a pass-first team, and legitimately so with this group of weapons.
Senior Tyler Kirkwood is a 3-star prospect who has previously reported offers from Tulane, Houston, Memphis and Northwestern State among others. He had 9 grabs for 189 yards with two scores last week bringing his season total to 33 catches for 625 yards with 6 touchdowns. He did have a couple of drops last week that would have easily put him over 200 yards, but the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is as legit as his season numbers would suggest.
The Tigers’ next three options are seniors Jalen Johnson and Alondre Wells along with the aforementioned Jaden Handy. Johnson is more of the quick-catch threat that can make defenders miss in space, Wells is more of an intermediate threat and Handy is a combination of both with better size and more power. Handy was also a full-time running back last season rushing for over 1,000 yards, and he can be a handful after the catch.
Rummel — The Raider offensive line had another strong showing last week giving up just one sack while powering the run game to 5.0 yards per carry on 45 attempts. Coach Nick Monica specifically pointed to the offensive line’s performance as well as the foundation of the offense’s success.
Holy Cross — The Tigers o-line is led by Tulane commitment Josh Remetich and this group’s focus is usually on pass-blocking rather than the run game. They’ve done relatively well in the former area giving up about 2.7 sacks per game while giving Wooton ample time to get the ball downfield. Holy Cross is averaging 14.8 yards per catch between all receivers and 5.5 yards per rush attempt between its top three rushers in Hulbert, Franklin and Handy.
Rummel — Rummel’s defensive line was busy wreaking havoc again last week against Brother Martin. They weren’t able to record any sacks on the Crusaders’ 12 pass attempts, but they did force multiple pressures, two of which led to interceptions. Former South Alabama commitment Jordon Williams was the culprit on both occasions and teams may want to give a little extra attention to the powerful edge rusher.
Holy Cross — Junior Barryn Sorrell is the name to know along the Tigers’ defensive front. It’s his first season at the position after transitioning from tight end, and he had two big third-down stops last week with a sack and a tackle for loss against Easton. Senior defensive tackle Josh Guillory can also be a handful for teams to move off the line of scrimmage as well.
Rummel — Standout junior Kolbe Fields and Southern commitment Aaron Thomas led the way at linebacker once again last week. Thomas was on the field a bit less than normal as Rummel switched up its personnel more against the Crusaders, but still made his presence felt with a few tackles near the line of scrimmage. Fields was all over the field once again and intercepted his second pass of the season. He did come off the field late with some sort of upper-body injury, but appeared to be in good spirits after the game.
Holy Cross — Louisiana Tech commitment Tyler Grubbs is the Tigers’ top player on defense leading the team with over 50 tackles so far this season. He also has two sacks with four tackles for loss and two interceptions, one of which was a pick-6 last week against Easton. Juniors Aiden Patcheco and Luke St. Amant have also been production combining for over 40 tackles while Patcheco leads the team in sacks with five.
Rummel — A ball-hawking secondary was at it again last week with Nicholls commitment Corey Smooth nabbing two picks to bring his season total to four. He’s now tied for the team-lead with former Southern commitment Malik Woodery, who re-opened his recruitment late last week. The secondary group now has 12 interceptions excluding two each from Fields and Thomas. Senior Sean Grimes also seemed to get a bit more time last week making a couple of nice tackles, and no one should be trying safety duo of Donovan Kaufman (Vanderbilt commitment) or Quinton Cage (3-star), aptly nicknamed the “Smash Brothers.”
Holy Cross — This group is led by really strong safety play between senior Colby Brown and juniors Kolbe Cage and Jackson Wallace. The group has six interceptions led by Cage’s three, which includes a pick-6 last week against Easton. Brown has one to Jackson’s two, but is the leading tackler of the bunch with over 40 takedowns. The Tigers also get significant contributions from senior Connor Wensel and sophomore cornerback Ernest Marbley, whose opening-drive interception set up Holy Cross’ first points of the game last week.
Rummel — Rummel has the advantage in this area with a more experienced kicker and a more proven group of return men. Senior Patrick Vanderbrook connected on three field goals from 45, 37 and 34 yards last week for Rummel, and routinely boots the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs. In the return game, Koy Moore, Donovan Kaufman and Corey Smooth have all shown they’re legitimate threats to score anytime they touch the ball on kick or punt returns.
Holy Cross — Freshman Aidan Corbello handles most aspects of the kicking game for the Tigers, and while he’s generally reliable on extra points, he doesn’t have the range on his kicks just yet. Amiri Franklin and Jalen Johnson are the return specialists for Holy Cross with Franklin recording a long of 60 on kick returns while Johnson has a long of 55 on punt returns. Neither has found the end zone yet, but they’re fully capable of doing so in due time.
Rummel coach Nick Monica — “We’re going to get Koy (Moore) going a little bit and a lot of teams are showing him a lot of attention with some bracket coverage and things, but when he gets going it’s going to be a scary offense.
(This year’s defense) is right up there with some of the best Rummel defenses. They remind me a lot of the 2012 defense as far as the athleticism. We’re undersized and people don’t realize that — we have two defensive lineman that are 5’8” but they move well.
We have six 3-year starters, so they understand team defense and what we need them to do and they all do their job and take pride in it. Sometimes young kids try do too much and follow the football and don’t care of their assignments, but these guys have a good understanding of that.”
Rummel senior CB Gavin Holmes — “I knew we were going to be really good because our whole defense last year were juniors except for about two people, so we had the experience coming back. I knew we were going to be really good and hold teams to fewer points, but I won’t lie, I didn’t think we were going to shut this many people out.
(Creating turnovers) all starts at practice. We make sure that we compete hard so when it comes to the game it’s like second nature going after the ball and attacking it. We don’t take a day of practice off, we go hard and it translates to the field.
Coach Monica talked a lot about their passing game and said they have a real offensive-minded coach. So the first thing we’re going to do is man up and win our one-on-one battles, so that’ll be the main thing. Another main thing is we can’t let their quarterback have too much time in the pocket because anybody can get open when they have a lot of time. It’s really going to be about our pass-rush and making sure we close those windows down so they can’t fit anything in there.”
Holy Cross junior DB Kolbe Cage — “Some of the strengths of our defense are we’re always looking to get the ball. We’ve got a lot of turnovers so far and we’ve had to contain quarterbacks because lately we’ve been playing teams that have a running quarterback. We try to contain those guys from running the ball against us.
We’ve got to spy (quarterback Kyle Wickersham) and (Tyler) Grubbs is going to do that regardless. We’ve got to keep an eye on the running back (Logan Diggs), they’re looking to throw it to him a lot and Koy (Moore) too. We’ve got to make sure we contain him. Other than that, the d-line will hold it down as always and we’ll be good.
I just try to bring aggressiveness (when I’m on the field). That’s really it because if you don’t have aggression then there’s really nothing you can do in football. That’s all I try to bring to the table.”
Holy Cross senior OL/Tulane commitment Josh Remetich — “I feel like (as an offense) if we work together as a unit, everyone does their job and we all go max effort, then we’ll all be successful, we’ll all win and we’ll all be happy with the outcome. We’ve just got to keep on playing hard and keep on executing.
(The passing game) definitely starts up front. You’ve got to have time in the backfield to be able to throw the ball downfield and make big plays, and the routes by the wide receivers are obviously great since they[re getting open the way they are.
What makes the game fun for me is being on the field with my family. I trust the guys in the backfield, trust the guys to my right and my left and I feel like I’m playing for them and the people who want to play that can’t.
If we keep executing the way we did last week, I think we’ll be great (against Rummel) and I think we’ll come out on top.”