LHSAA Football Preview: Archbishop Rummel leads charge as top seed in select playoffs
It was not an easy task.
Archbishop Rummel played an extremely challenging schedule, facing a North Carolina state champion, a Mississippi state champion, good 5A playoff teams in Slidell and Ruston and Catholic League powers John Curtis Christian and Brother Martin, along with good teams in Jesuit, Holy Cross and St. Augustine.
The Raiders saw and conquered them all, earning the top seed in the Division I playoffs. A bye comes with the accomplishment which is a huge benefit as Rummel is banged up and will now have time to heal, perhaps even getting center Chase Tolin back.
The Raider defense is the best in Louisiana. Rummel has allowed only 45 points in 10 games and one score was a pick-six on the Raider offense, another was following an offensive fumble lost deep in Rummel territory and a third was on a kickoff return. Another field goal came off of a Raider turnover. Realistically, the Raiders have only yielded 21 points on defense all season long.
Rummel relies on seven players on defense who will play at the next level next season, led by Donovan Kaufman (Vanderbilt) and Quinton Cage, along with Jordon Williams (South Alabama). It will be all about how the Raider offense, led by juniors Logan Diggs and Kyle Wickersham, along with senior receivers Koy Moore (LSU commit) and Ivory Wilwright IV.
Rummel (10-0) has a bye, along with unbeaten second seed Catholic of Baton Rouge.
The Raiders get the winner of No. 8 St. Augustine (5-5) and Byrd (4-6). The Purple Knights are dangerous. They played both Archbishop Rummel and John Curtis Christian off their feet before falling. St. Aug has Kansas commit Taiwan Berryhill at linebacker and Memphis commitment Khi Mathieu at wide receiver, along with UNLV commit Jabaz Myles at linebacker.
The Bears (10-0) average 50 points per game. They are virtually unstoppable. Offensive lineman Connor Finucane is a Louisiana Tech commitment while guard Joseph Alexander is a standout as well. Fullback Brian Hibbard is a Rice commit.
They get the winner of No. 7 Holy Cross and No. 10 St. Paul’s. The Tigers (5-5) can score with anyone. They have scored 31 or more points six times, led by junior quarterback John Dade Wooton and wide receiver Tyler Kirkwood. Tackle Josh Remetich is a Tulane commit while Louisiana Tech commit Tyler Grubbs is an excellent linebacker. The Wolves are good on defense, having pitched three shutouts and allowed just 13 points per game. St. Paul’s beat Holy Cross 27-24 in the playoffs in 2017.
John Curtis (9-1) is the third seed. The Patriots are defending state champions and lost only by a point and a yard in overtime to Rummel. Army commitment Collin Guggenheim runs the veer offense to perfection while Georgia commit Corey Wren is perhaps the fastest player in the state at running back. Robbie Pizzolato is a good offensive lineman. Defensive lineman Angelo Anderson is a Tulane commit and defensive lineman Elinus Noel is a load.
The Patriots will play the winner of the rematch game between Catholic League rivals in No. 6 Jesuit (6-4) and No. 11 Archbishop Shaw (3-7). The Blue Jays whipped the Eagles 34-3 on Oct. 25. Quarterback Grant Jordan has been very solid for the Blue Jays and lineman Brian Balestra is an Air Force commitment while Sonny Hazard and Ethan Branch are very good defensive linemen. The Eagles have not won a league game since 2015 but increased their win total this season over last year.
Brother Martin (8-2) is the fourth seed and the Crusaders enjoy a bye before playing the winner of No. 5 Scotlandville (7-3) and McKinley (1-9). The Crusaders and Hornets have met the last three years in the playoffs and figure to do so again. The Crusaders won last year while the Hornets won in 2016 and 2017. Brother Martin has good running backs in Jaylon Spears and Chris Smith and a Georgia Tech commit in the secondary in Nick Turner.
Scotlandville has scored 60 or more points five times this year. Defensive end Jonathan Horton is a star for the Hornets. The Panthers appear overmatched, with just one win over Istrouma.
In Division II, high scoring St. Thomas More (8-2) is the top seed. STM averages 41.8 points per game, led by quarterback Caleb Holstein, a Harvard commitment. The Cougars reached the title game a year ago
The Cougars will face the winner of No. 8 E.D. White Catholic (5-5) and No. 9 Evangel Christian (5-4).
The Cardinals allow 16.7 points per game and their losses came against very good teams, including St. James and St. Charles Catholic. The Eagles have won four in a row, averaging 47.5 points in those victories, led by quarterback Blake Shapen, an Arizona State commit.
No. 2 De La Salle (7-2) have won four straight games entering the playoffs and are led by running back Montrell Johnson. The Cavaliers have at least reached the semifinals three straight years.
De La Salle will take on the winner of No. 7 Teurlings Catholic (6-4) and No. 10 Parkview Baptist (5-5). The Rebels average 32.8 points per contest. The Eagles have shutout three opponents this season and have an Ole Miss commit in defensive tackle DeSanto Rollins.
No. 3 University High (7-3) is the two-time defending state champion. The Cubs will host No. 14 Lusher Charter (3-7) in what looks like a mismatch. The Cubs have an LSU commit in defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy and a Tulane commit in offensive lineman Rashad Green. The Lions have lost four of five games. While Lusher can score, the Lions allow 44.1 points per game.
The winner will face the winner of No. 6 Archbishop Hannan (4-6) and No. 11 Vandebilt Catholic (6-4). The Hawks have faced a tough schedule and have won three of their last four games. Hannan has allowed just 47 points in those four games. The Terriers are hot, having won five of their last six games and have allowed just 52 points in their last five games.
No. 4 Loyola Prep (8-2) will entertain No. 13 Thomas Jefferson (4-6). The Flyers have lost only to Huntington and Many. Loyola averages 33 points per game. The Jaguars average just 17 points per contest.
The winner faces the winner of No. 5 St. Louis Catholic (7-2) and No. 12 St. Michael the Archangel (6-4). The Saints average 36.3 points per game while the Warriors allow 18.4 points per contest.
In Division III, Lafayette Christian (9-1) is the No. 1 seed and gets a bye. The Knights will play the winner of No. 8 Ascension Episcopal (8-2) and No. 9 Holy Savior Menard (6-4) in the quarterfinals. Lafayette Christian has a huge win over No.2 seed and defending state champion Notre Dame and the Knights average 36.7 points per game. The Knights have a UL-Lafayette commit in wide receiver Errol Rogers and a fine linebacker in Princeton Malbrue.
The Pios (9-1) are the second seed and have a bye. Notre Dame will play the winner of No. 7 Catholic of New Iberia (7-3) and No. 10 St. Thomas Aquinas (5-5). Catholic won the state title two years ago and have a UL-Lafayette commit in Trey Amos.
St. Charles Catholic (9-1) is seeded third and gets a bye. The Comets will face the winner of No. 6 Episcopal (8-2) and No. 11 Northlake Christian (5-5). St. Charles Catholic has a Tulane commitment in defensive tackle Mason Narcisse and a brilliant linebacker in junior Mandel Eugene. The Knights have won three straight games, allowing just 23 points in those three victories. The Wolverines have won three of their last four games and have allowed nine points or fewer five times.
Newman (9-1) gets the fourth seed and the Greenies get a bye. Newman is led by freshman quarterback Arch Manning and senior wide receiver Jarmone Sutherland while outside linebacker/defensive end Brandon Williams, a Virginia commit, leads the defense. Newman will face No. 5 Dunham (9-1) in an outstanding quarterfinal matchup. The Tigers allow just 11.5 points per game.
In Division IV, Vermilion Catholic (9-1) is the top seed. The Eagles lost only to Opelousas Catholic. Vermilion Catholic averages 38.7 points per game. The Eagles host No. 16 Ascension Christian (3-7). The Lions have lost six of their last seven games and allow 34.4 points per contest.
The winner of that matchup plays the winner of No. 8 Country Day (4-4) and No. 9 Central Catholic (5-4). The Cajuns have Tulane commitment Justin Ibieta at quarterback and average 35.9 points per game. The Eagles had won four straight before falling to Vermilion Catholic to close the season. They have scored 40 or more points five times.
Opelousas Catholic (9-1) is the No. 2 seed and the Vikings have lost only to Catholic of Pointe Coupee. Opelousas Catholic averages 38 points per game and will host No. 15 Hamilton Christian (5-4). The Warriors have won three of their last four games.
The winner of that matchup will take on the winner of No. 7 Catholic of Pointe Coupee (8-2) and No. 10 Cedar Creek (7-3). The Hornets have won five straight games and average 39.2 points per game. The Cougars have won three of their last four games and their losses were to powers Ouachita Christian, Oak Grove and Loyola Prep.
Unbeaten third seed Ascension Catholic (9-0) will play host to Riverside Academy (3-7). The Bulldogs average 39.2 points per game while allowing just 9.3 points per game, led by defensive tackle Nicholas Hilliard. The Rebels have faced a very difficult schedule but they are coming off of a huge 36-35 win over Country Day. Riverside is led by junior quarterback Gage Larvadain, a good athlete who is the point guard on the Rebel basketball squad.
The winner will take on the winner of No. 6 Southern Lab (6-3) and No. 11 St. Edmund (6-4). The Kittens are hot, having won four straight games and have scored 40 or more points five times. They have a Houston commitment in wide receiver Reginald Johnson and an Arizona commit in linebacker Jabar Triplett. The Blue Jays have won five of their last seven games and have recorded three shutouts this season.
Unbeaten Calvary Baptist (10-0) is a dangerous fourth seed and the Cavaliers will host No. 13 St. Frederick (6-4). The Cavaliers average a state-high 53.6 points per game and the closest anyone has come to them is a 12-point win over 5A Byrd. They have an Ole Miss commitment in Ole Miss safety Eric Reed and a Kansas commitment in cornerback Tanner Hooker. The Warriors have pitched three shutouts.
The winner will face the winner of No. 5 Ouachita Christian (9-1) and No. 5 Sacred Heart of Ville Platte (5-5). The Eagles are a threat to win it all as well. Their only loss was to unbeaten Sterlington. OCS has scored 40 or more points in nine of 10 games and are led by Will Fitzhugh. The Trojans have lost three of their last five games.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…