Welcome back to Catholic League competition
Photo by Ron Brocato | CLARION HERALD
Archbishop Rummel junior cornerback Henré Toliver (5) outleaps St. Augustine wide receiver Craig Victor to intercept a pass at the Rummel 3-yard line late in their Sept. 15 non-district game at Joe Yenni Stadium. To add insult to injury, Toliver regained his balance to return the ball 97 yards for a touchdown and add to the Raiders’ 42-18 victory.
St. Augustine and Archbishop Shaw, two Class 4A schools with aspirations of returning to their Catholic League home in 2013, had a taste of Class 5A competition.
It was rather bitter and more so for the Purple Knights, who are among the top seven teams in their current class.
St. Aug’s head coach, Cyril Crutchfield, said he hoped his undefeated team, which had outscored its first two opponents, 100-33, would face a healthy quarterback in Archbishop Rummel’s Damian Williams last Saturday for the satisfaction of beating the best. But No. 1 ranked Rummel played with a limping Williams, still hurting from a hamstring injury he incurred a week earlier and was hardly himself.
It hardly mattered. The Raiders’ offensive line protected their leader and made it easy for the running backs to punch out 217 yards in a 42-18 Rummel blowout. And Williams still threw two touchdown passes.
The outcome was a mild surprise but a study of how a game plan works for one team and not for another.
St. Augustine is blessed with one of the top junior running backs in the U.S. in Leonard Fournette, who greatly concerned Rummel head coach Jay Roth and his defensive coordinator, Eddie Jaquillard, as they pored over film and situations in which to limit the offensive damage the brilliant, 230-pound Adonis might cause.
Jaquillard devised a creative combination of defensive schemes that stole the show by rendering the Purple Knights’ powerful offense, which posted 59 points in a blowout of Brother Martin a week earlier, ineffective.
Fournette carried the ball 11 times for 86 yards, most of which came on a 60-yard touchdown run late in the first half. But he was called upon for double duty as a linebacker on defense, which expended a lot of his energy.
On the other side, Rummel’s offensive line covered Williams’ physical setback by driving the Knights’ defense back on its heels. They allowed the ground game to grind out yards and first downs against the Knights’ stack-the-line defense. Rummel controlled the game clock.
The result was a demonstrative win, which not only shocked the 4,000 Purple Knights’ faithful that made the trek to Joe Yenni Stadium, but prep writers from throughout Louisiana. Most were not surprised that Rummel won but by a four-touchdown margin!
St. Aug was victimized by 12 penalties for 79 yards, most of which were self-inflicted by a combination of eight false starts and encroachments. One was a “hidden player” ruse that has been declared illegal for decades, and another when a Purple Knights’ touchdown was nullified on an inadvertent whistle from the spectator area. It was unfortunate but didn’t affect the outcome of the game. Although St. Aug fans were understandably upset, it was the proper call.
Neither Jesuit nor Archbishop Shaw is ranked among the state’s Top 10 teams in their respective classes, but the two put on the most entertaining offensive display of the weekend.
In an afternoon shootout on Sept. 15, Shaw represented itself well by scoring 49 points on Jesuit before giving up 56 points to the Blue Jays.
Quarterbacks Tanner Lee of Jesuit and Shaw’s Quentin Gibson combined for an incredible 1,055 yards. Each passed for seven touchdowns. Lee completed 23-of-32 passes for 552 yards, and Gibson countered with 32-of-48 for 503 yards. Tennis, anyone?
The host Eagles, now 1-1 and averaging 45.5 points per game, jumped ahead, 28-14, in the first half before Jesuit answered by scoring the next four TDs on Lee passes.
The Jays’ top receiver was Matthew Hackney, who scored on receptions and runs of 61, 56 and 24 yards. Hackney caught 12 passes for 284 yards (which is probably a Blue Jay record), while teammate Mitchell Alexander added 172 yards on six receptions.
Lee’s performance earned him Clarion Herald Player of the Week (see Sept. 22, 2012 Clarion Herald, page 10).
But Shaw’s junior quarterback also had a career day chucking the ball, as did his go-to receiver, Kent Shelby. The senior end caught six passes for 222 yards and scored three times on plays that covered 85, 68 and 19 yards.
Although the two defensive coordinators were far from happy with their units, the game was more than worth the price of admission.
Shaw and St. Augustine are scheduled to meet on Sept. 29.