Well, this is what we’ve all been waiting for.
John Curtis and Rummel have been on a collision course for the better part of the 2019 season, and the first of what could be multiple matchups will kick off this Friday at Joe Yenni Stadium at 7 p.m.
The two undefeated squads took care of business last week with John Curtis (8-0, 4-0) pulling away from Holy Cross in the second half while Rummel (8-0, 4-0) had to pull off an unexpected comeback win against St. Augustine.
Here’s how the two teams match up in what is Louisiana’s most anticipated game of the week with both the New Orleans Saints and LSU Tigers on a bye.
Curtis — Four-year starter Collin Guggenheim was the second-leading rusher behind his own teammates heading into Week 8, but he now holds the league’s No. 1 spot after a huge outing against Holy Cross. The senior racked up 314 of Curtis’ 552 yards rushing on the day with touchdown runs of 86, 41, 69 and 37 yards.
That pushed his season total to 934 yards on 78 carries and he also leads the league in rushing touchdowns with 17. The Army commitment has mastered the Patriots’ veer-option offense and leads an attack that averages 52.3 points per game. There isn’t much that Guggenheim hasn’t seen on the high school level, and he’s a cerebral player who is constantly diagnosing the weaknesses of the defense in order to exploit them.
Rummel — Kyle Wickersham was on a roll heading into last week’s contest against St. Augustine accounting for 512 yards with 12 touchdowns over the last four weeks, but production was hard to come by against a stingy Purple Knights defense. He threw for 84 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, but neither one of them were poor throws as both were batted at the line and subsequently intercepted. The first-year starter made a few strong throws downfield and the Raiders aren’t shy about letting it fly when need be. Wickersham is also a powerful runner who has proven he’s capable of hurting opponents with his legs.
Curtis — Georgia commit Corey Wren was the Catholic League’s leading rusher going into last week, but is now second behind Guggenheim even after a 158-yard performance against Holy Cross. His incredible speed was on display once again as he raced for touchdowns of 64 and 80 on Curtis’ first two possession, and he also had a 2-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter. He needed just nine carries to make his presence felt, and still leads the league in yards per rush with an absurd 14.7 yards per carry. As detailed before, if Wren reaches the corner or the second level of the defense, his opponent is in serous trouble.
Senior Shane Goins is also capable of being an impact player in the Patriots’ backfield with his longest rush coming from 76 yards out, and he currently has 490 yards with five touchdowns on 46 carries.
Rummel — Junior Logan Diggs and senior Jaelen Sturgis are the heart of the Rummel offense. The duo delivered once again last week combining for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, and Diggs was the top producer totaling 101 yards with a score on 16 totes. He also had the go-ahead score for Rummel early in the third quarter with a 38-yard score, and continuing this version of “thunder and lighting”’s success will likely be the key to the Raiders keeping their unblemished record in tact.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Curtis — The Patriots didn’t complete either one of their two passes last week against Holy Cross, but it wasn’t much of an issue as they ran for over 550 yards as previously mentioned. They may have to rely on their passing game a bit more this time around, though, so look for senior Joel Taylor along with sophomores Javon Davis and tight end Connor Orgeron to make more contributions if needed.
Taylor hasn’t had as many opportunities this year snagging six passes for 85 yards, but had 12 catches for 298 yards with five touchdowns as a junior. Davis and Orgeron both have nine catches for 137 and 126 yards this season with one and two touchdowns, respectively, and have the potential to be college-level players should their progression continue.
Rummel — LSU commit Koy Moore and emerging senior Ivory Wilright are Rummel’s bonafide threats in the passing game. Moore came up with a pair of big catches on the Raiders’ only two touchdowns drives, and his 4-grab, 61-yard effort increased his season totals to 28 receptions for 334 yards with three touchdowns.
Wilright continues to prove he’s more than just a reliable option making eye-opening catches week in and week out, and he’s as sure-handed as they come totaling 18 catches for 305 yards with six touchdowns on the year.
The Raiders also like to use Diggs out of the backfield on occasion, and Curtis would be wise to make sure the talented junior is always accounted for.
Curtis — The Patriots’ mammoth offensive line has been the catalyst to their success all season, they’ll need their best performance of the year against a historically great Rummel defense that has given up just one touchdowns and 13 points through eight games. The Patriots have a couple of guys up front with college-level ability, but they’re primarily a large, gritty group that loves to get downhill and repeatedly punish their adversaries.
Rummel — Like Curtis, Rummel’s offensive line doesn’t have many “big names,” but they’re a strong group who’s anchored the run game and given Wickersham enough time in the pocket to find Moore and Wilright. They’ll see their toughest group of the season in a talented Curtis unit, and will have to rise to the challenge in order for the Raiders to avoid their first loss of the season Friday night.
Curtis — This group dominated the second half of last week’s game against Holy Cross after the Patriots surrendered 31 first-half points. Senior defensive end Marquis Martin was an absolute force coming up with 2.5 sacks with two tackles for loss, and Tulane commit Angelo Anderson at the opposite end also made his way into the backfield on multiple occasions. The Patriots are also strong up the middle with a potential Division I prospect in junior Elinus Noel III next to seasoned senior Joseph Kreger.
Rummel — The Raiders usually only go with three down lineman and two of them are bonafide playmakers in former Southern Alabama defensive end commit Jordon Williams and junior defensive tackle Caboz Craig. Williams’ skill, power and intensity is matched by few on the high school level, and he made a huge play last week deflecting a pass that led to an interception inside the Raiders’ 5-yard line.
Craig is a key piece in stabilizing Rummel’s run defense along with senior Evonce Brown, and while Craig is drawing some Division I interest, his stock would significantly higher if not for his 5-foot-10, 215-pound frame.
Curtis — This unit is home to the Patriots’ second and third-leading tacklers in junior Kylin White and senior Matthew Jayne, who missed the first two games of the season. White has tallied 49 total tackles to Jaynes’s 41, and they’re an instinctive duo that seem to find themselves in the right spots more times than not.
Rummel — The Raiders usually employ just two linebackers in a somewhat unorthodox defensive lineup, and both of them are impact players who will play on the Division I level. Junior Kolbe Fields is an absolute stud who continues to prove as much every week, and he leads the team in tackles with 41 with six of those coming behind the line of scrimmage. Southern commit Aaron Thomas is Rummel’s other mainstay at linebacker, and he’s third on the team in takedowns totaling 36 with eight of those coming in the opponents’ backfield.
Curtis — The Patriots’ have two Division I prospects in their secondary in senior cornerback Dante Thomas, and a severe oversight during last week’s breakdown in junior Caleb Spann. Thomas holds offers from a handful of colleges including UNLV, Northwestern State, Southeastern and Jacksonville State, and he’s always looking to get his hands on the ball when it’s in the air.
Spann is the son of former NFL lineman and current Warren Easton assistant coach Corry Spann, and is as physically mature as just about any junior defensive back in the state. He’s tied with Thomas in pass deflections with six while intercepting one pass and is with on the team in tackles with 35.
Rummel — This is without question the deepest, strongest unit of Rummel’s defense. They boast five current, former or future college players in Vanderbilt safety commit Donovan Kaufman, Nicholls defensive back commit Corey Smooth, former Colorado cornerback commit Gavin Holmes, former Southern cornerback commit Malik Woodery and 3-star safety commit Quinton “Pig” Cage.
Cage plays more of hybrid role as a linebacker/safety for the Raiders, which makes the unit even more versatile and formidable against both the run and the pass. In addition to those five, Rummel also has another key player in senior Sean Grimes that picked off two passes last week against St. Augustine.
As we’ve done before, we’ll lump this section into on group as the Patriots and Raiders have multiple similarities.
Senior Austin McCready handles all the kicking the kicking duties for Curtis while senior Patrick Vanderbrook does the same for Rummel. They are both extremely reliable as field goal kickers and punters while also routinely booting the ball out of the back of the end zone for touchbacks, but wind can always play a factor here.
In the return game, both teams have players capable of going the distance in Wren and Davis for the Patriots while Rummel relies on a trio of playmakers in Kaufman, Moore and Smooth. Any of these five players are capable of ripping off a big return that could flip field position in their team’s favor, or they may just take matters into their own hands entirely bringing a kick back for a score.