The Barbe Bucs have finally made it to the Superdome Prep Classic.
One task still remains — bringing home the school’s first football state championship. The opponent, Archbishop Rummel, is also looking for its first title.
Both are in the championship game for the second time. Barbe lost to East St. John at Cowboy Stadium in 1980, before the championship games were moved to the Superdome, while Rummel lost to West Monroe in 2009.
Both programs have been among the state’s elite over the past decade but have been unable to claim the top prize.
Barbe overcame what had been its biggest obstacle last week when it beat West Monroe 49-48 in the semifinal round. The Rebels had beaten Barbe seven times in the playoffs since 1997, while, in the words of Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera, “setting the standard in Class 5A.”
“No matter where they are on the bracket, it goes through West Monroe,” Cutrera said after the game, which featured the Bucs scoring the final 28 points, including 21 in the final 2:11.
“If they are on your side of the bracket, you have to beat them to get to the championship. If they are on the other side, you have to beat them. “I can’t say enough about our coaches and our kids, they just kept working until the found a way to win. The kids feed off of each other. They love one another and believe in each other.”
The Raiders also know the pain of losing to the Rebel juggernaut. Their lone championship game appearance was a 30-0 loss to the Rebels in 2009.
Before that season, Rummel had lost its first five semifinal round games, going out in the round of four in 1974, ’82, 2001, ’02 and ’06. The Raiders lost quarterfinal games in 2000, ’06, ’07 and ’11.
Head coach Jay Roth has led the Raiders to the playoffs 17 times in 18 years and has a career record of 173-44.
Cutrera said motivation will not be a problem this week and he expects his team to be ready to play when the game kicks off Saturday night.
“It is the state championship game, we won’t have to get them up,” he said. “Probably, I will have to keep them down since they will be so excited with the magnitude of the game. We have so many kids that have been involved in big games, not just in football but in other sports. They are competitive in other sports and it carries over to football, it is the same mentality.”
Former Bucs had coach Jimmy Shaver said this year’s team has the ability and personality to succeed.
“The most talented ever, especially offensively,” he said.
“Not just (receiver Trey) Quinn and (quarterback Kennon) Fontenot and (tight end Desean) Smith. The offensive line does a tremendous job. Defensively, they’ve played people that score a lot points. When they played people that weren’t as good, they didn’t give up a lot of points. They’re not big, but they run to the ball well and are well-coached. And, when they have to make a play, they do. Every year is different with the personality of the kids and how they handle it. This group of kids is phenomenal. They are winners from the ground up. They really are.”
• 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.