They’re back – and they mean business.
After a brief hiatus, District 9-5A is once again a true Catholic League as the 2013 high school football season is about to get under way.
The league is six teams strong. Its members include holdovers Archbishop Rummel, Brother Martin and Jesuit, joined by Holy Cross, St. Augustine and Archbishop Shaw, which chose to play up one class to rejoin their Catholic brethren.
Selecting the final order of finish in a district that is historically the most competitive in its class, is difficult enough.
On paper, St. Augustine appears to have the size, speed and talent to return to the top of the league standings.
On the other hand, Archbishop Rummel is fresh from a Class 5A championship, and even though it lost several key players, including the 5A Outstanding Player in quarterback Damian Williams, the Raiders won’t give up the top spot without a fight.
And watch for Holy Cross to figure into the mix.
So now, let the slings and arrows do their work. Here is how the Clarion Herald sees the finish of what will undoubtedly be a great race.
No. 1 Archbishop Rummel
Rebuilding? Phooey. The defending state champion has three positives: Its solid coaching staff, which has been together for years; a defense that is among the state’s best; and a businesslike approach to the game.
Two capable athletes will compete for Williams’ quarterback position – senior Jordan Lamy, who saw limited duty in 2012, and sophomore Chase Fourcade.
Brothers Keith and Kristian Fulton are two others to watch. Keith, a running back, scored three TDs in the state championship game. Kris, a sophomore, is a quick defensive back.
Trying to run against defensive linemen Herman Thomas, Matt Kennedy and Briston Guidry will be quite a chore.
No. 2 St. Augustine
The Purple Knights have the talent to win this district if the breaks fall for them.
They certainly have the best running back in Louisiana in senior Leonard Fournette, a probable future LSU Tiger. If the 6-1, 230-pound sprinter can avoid injury, few defenses will prevent him from a fourth 1,000-plus-yard season.
Toi Jackson is a veteran quarterback who will have the task of directing the Knights past the likes of Karr, John Curtis and the rest of the Catholic League.
There is enough size to go around on both the offensive and defensive lines.
No. 3 Holy Cross
Head coach Barry Wilson expects his veteran squad to compete for a district title. With 13 returning players from a 10-3 team that gave 4A champion Karr a tough game in the semifinals, the Tigers could be a factor. They’ll have the most experienced starting backfield with QB James Tabary and RB Todd Spriggins to carry the offense.
No. 4 Brother Martin and Jesuit
Ties are not uncommon in this district. And it’s difficult to separate one from another in this battle for fourth place.
Brother Martin has good size and a defense that has outgrown its inexperience of a year ago. Offensive tackle William Clapp is the leader and one of the best in the state. But the question is: How good is the offense?
Jesuit has to replace passing whiz Tanner Lee at quarterback and does not have a great deal of depth. But the players are smart and have a veteran coaching staff to rely on.
No. 6 Archbishop Shaw
Just because the Eagles are picked at the bottom doesn’t mean they will finish there.
They have an excellent passing quarterback in senior Quentin Gibson but will start about seven seniors on both sides of the ball.
The key to their season is how quickly the underclassmen rise to a competitive level.
Next – St. Paul’s, De La Salle, St. Charles Catholic, Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Hannan previews.
Players to watch
Abp. Rummel tailback
Bro. Martin off. tackle
St. Augustine tailback
Holy Cross def. back
Abp. Shaw quarterback
Jesuit off. lineman