Last Modified: Thursday, December 06, 2012 11:48 PM
Barbe and Archbishop Rummel are relative strangers to the championship stage, with each school set to make its second appearance in the title game Saturday when they play for the Class 5A football crown.
Rummel head coach Jay Roth said having fresh faces playing in the Superdome is a good thing.
“It’s two perennial playoff teams that have never got to the final and won,” he said. “It is exciting for 5A football, it is good to see some new blood in there and it should be exciting for the fans.”
If history is any indication, it will be. The teams played each other during the 2009-10 regular seasons, with Rummel winning 31-28 in Lake Charles in 2009, and Barbe winning 32-28 in New Orleans the following year.
Rummel (13-0) brings a perfect record to the championship game, as it did in its pervious finals appearance, a 2009 loss to West Monroe.
Roth said the Raiders are facing their biggest test against the Bucs (13-1).
“I don’t think we have faced a team like Barbe,” he said. “They are the most talented team we have played. I think it helps, we faced some teams that had offenses that were outstanding, but nothing like Barbe.
“I believe the last time we have seen an offense of this level was when John David Booty was playing at Evangel and we faced them three times in a row (from 2001-3, all Evangel playoff wins). Now you add a quarterback (Kennon Fontenot) that is mobile and it just adds more pressure to the defense.”
Defense has been the calling card for the Raiders, who allow 10.7 points per game while scoring 39.2 per game.
“Our defense is led by a solid linebacker unit, Terrance Jones and Michael Kennedy, our two leading tacklers. We are not a big football team and the defensive line has no returning starters from last year. The strength is the linebackers, and we have some experience in the secondary.”
The secondary is led by seniors Henré Tolliver and Damarius Crawford and junior Dwayne Eugene.
Roth said he hopes to play keep-away with his team’s offense, which is led by quarterback Damian Williams who has completed 85 of 134 passes for 1,708 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. Williams has also run 144 times for 820 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Offensively we are balanced. Williams is a four-year letterman, he is out leader and makes us go. Tailback Keith Fulton has rushed for 1,100 yards. Our best defense will be our offense, hopefully. We will need to control the football and hopefully match them score for score.”
The Raiders have pulled out a couple of close ones in the last two rounds, beating Ouachita by four points in the quarterfinals and Mandeville by three in the semifinals.
“If we can get it to be a close game, having won those games will help us,” Roth said. “Our last two games come down to fourth quarter. At least we have been there if it comes to that, but Barbe had a close one their last game, too.”
• When: 8 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
• Radio: KLCL (1470-AM)
• Series: 1-1.
• Last Meeting: Barbe 32, Rummel 28, 2010.
• Head Coaches: Mike Cutrera, Barbe, second season; Jay Roth, Rummel, 18th season.
• State Titles: None.
• Last Time In State Final: Barbe lost to East St. John, 15-8, in 1980; Rummel lost to West Monroe, 30-0, in 2009.
• Road To Dome: Barbe beat Terrebonne 24-7, C.E. Byrd 38-21, Parkway 45-35, West Monroe, 49-48. Rummel beat Lafayette, 49-7, Dutchtown, 21-10, Ouachita, 23-19, Mandeville, 17-14.
• When Rummel Has The Ball: Stop if you have heard this before, Barbe’s young defense will have to try and stop the Raiders power-running game. It is a ball-control attack that will try to eat up the clock and wear down the Barbe defensive, which has given up huge chunks of yardage this year. The Bucs gave up 546 yards all on the ground to West Monroe in the semifinals, 295 going to quarterback Michael Mims. The Bucs did force a pair of turnovers which led to 14 points and helped fuel the winning comeback.
• Key Players For Rummel: Senior quarterback Damian Williams will lead the Raiders attack. He has accounted for 2,529 yards of total offense and 26 touchdowns. Junior tailback Keith Fulton has rushed for 1,102 yards and scored 20 TDs.
• Keys for Rummel: Rummel is seeking the first state championship in the 49-year history of its program and to do so must control the ball offensively and consume clock time with its rushing attack. Senior quarterback Damian Williams and junior tailback Keith Fulton are key figures in those plans. Williams, as he has all season, is the Raiders’ physical and spiritual leader and is making his second state championship game start. But it is the Rebels secondary of corners Henré Toliver, Dontrell Bennett and Austin Vance and safeties Dwayne Eugene and Damarius Crawford that will be tested most by Barbe’s pass-crazy offense.
• When Barbe Has The Ball: They will have to score as many points as they can and stretch the field against a Raider defense that has not seen this type of speed all season. The Bucs will try to get out to a lead early in hopes of taking Rummel’s offense out of its game plan, which is to pound the football. Barbe must also be able to run the football enough to control the clock at least enough to help out its young defense and give it some rest. That means the Bucs, led by junior quarterback Kennon Fontenot, can’t turn the ball over. It has gotten them in trouble in games.
• Key Players For Barbe: Fontenot is the main man. He has thrown for 4,119 yards and 45 touchdowns while being intercepted 10 times. He has also rushed for 566 yards and eight more scores. But he seems at his best when he improvises. Chased out of the pocket against West Monroe, Fontenot ran himself to freedom and was able to throw for 423 yards and six TDs while leading an amazing comeback that saw Barbe score three times in the final 2:11 for the 49-48 win. His favorite targets of are receiver Trey Quinn with 111 catches for 2,094 yards and 26 touchdowns and tight end Desean Smith (42, 730, 9). Courtney Galentine leads the run attack with 1,058 yards and 16 touchdowns but is also a weapon as a pass catcher with 56 grabs for 719 yards and another four scores.