The comeback kids: Rummel wins first title
Jay Roth and his Archbishop Rummel football team returned to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome one day after winning the 2012 State Farm Prep Classic’s Class 5A championship. That Sunday afternoon encore was made necessary when Rummel won its first football championship in 24 years of playoff competition by handily defeating Barbe of Lake Charles, 35-14.
Roth wanted to re-shoot the team picture for the school’s yearbook at Champions Square.
And deservedly so. Rummel became the first Catholic League school to win a football championship since 1987, when Archbishop Shaw defeated Covington as a Class 4A team.
Under head coaches Don Perret, Easten Roth, George Ryan, Marc Martin and Jay Roth, Rummel had been eliminated in nine bi-district round playoff games, seven regionals, two quarterfinal rounders, five semifinals and once, just three years ago, in the championship game.
The seniors who remembered that resounding 30-0 defeat in 2009 to the “Beast of Northeast Louisiana” – West Monroe – played with purpose on Dec. 8 when they faced 13-1 Barbe.
Barbe came into the game with great credentials. The Bucs punched their ticket to the finals by overcoming a 27-point deficit in the fourth period to beat West Monroe, 49-48, for the first time in eight playoff encounters with the eight-time state champion.
Barbe had 31 playoff appearances under its pads but it had two distinct disadvantages: its defense was porous, and the coaching staff did nothing to adjust it; secondly, the last time Barbe played for a state championship was 1980. That was before the Prep Classic was played in the Dome.
East St. John, coached by current Rummel Athletic Director Phil Greco, defeated Barbe, 15-8, before a packed stadium at McNeese State University.
A better Buc trap
In watching films of the Bucs, Rummel’s coaching staff felt the Raiders would be able to run the ball against a defense that, on nine occasions this season, gave up four or more touchdowns to an opponent. The Bucs’ offense was always able to score more points than it yielded and felt invincible.
Rummel’s game plan was to milk the 25-second clock down to a few seconds before executing a play.
It worked to perfection. Junior running back Keith Fulton slashed through gaping holes on both sides of the defensive line for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Damian Williams was able to complete 11 of 13 passes for 193 yards and two more touchdowns.
Barbe’s defense did little to prevent the Red Wave from overpowering it, perhaps because the coaches thought the offense would once again prevail.
Uh oh. Rummel wasn’t unbeaten in 13 games because of its offense alone. Defensive coordinator Eddie Jacquillard and his staff had stopped some of the state’s best high school offenses in its 13 victories.
They pressured one of the state’s top passers, Kennon Fontenot, who had thrown for more than 4,100 yards and 45 touchdowns in 14 games. Fontenot had to scramble to dodge all the Raider defenders he encountered on every juke.
His star receiver, LSU signee Trey Quinn (18 catches for 2,091 yards and 26 TDs), managed to catch four passes, none longer than 16 yards, and he had zero touchdowns.
From Perret’s “Super Ants” of 1972-75 through Easten Roth’s two playoff seasons and on to his son, Jay, the Raiders have won or shared 14 district championships.
Jay Roth has led his alma mater to 10 district titles, a 34-17 record in post-season games, and a career coaching record of 173-44. He is 27 wins shy of joining the elite coaches’ 200-win club.
He credits his veteran staff for his success. It didn’t hurt to have the school’s chaplains and New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond on the sidelines as well.