By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports
Two schools that were football fledglings in 1964 are now vying for the District 9-5A championship and possibly for the No. 1 seed in Division I.
Scheduled for Joe Yenni Stadium on Nov. 1, Archbishop Rummel and John Curtis have been the kingpins of Jefferson Parish’s East Bank for decades.
Although a panel of writers representing the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s polling lists Curtis as its No. 1-ranked team and Rummel at No. 3 behind Catholic of Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Sportsline power ranking places Rummel at No. 2 behind Catholic and Curtis at No. 3.
Both adversaries carry 8-0 records into what will no doubt be a sellout at Joe Yenni Stadium for the 7 p.m. kickoff.
The winner will almost assure itself of the district championship (although each will have one game remaining next weekend).
As a K-through-12 program (I know, Curtis has a separate location for its lower and high schools, but they are still under the same J.T. Curtis family management), the River Ridge private school should be favored to win because of its unique advantage.
As an Archdiocese of New Orleans school, Rummel’s curriculum begins at grade 8, while Curtis can acquire students from grades pre-K and up and begin their athletic indoctrination at the elementary school level.
But there was a time when the two schools were just getting their programs started.
Their first meeting came in 1964, before Rummel joined the fabled Catholic League and Curtis the mythical Riverside League.
Coached by Joe Galliano, who left his post at Redemptorist and took the school’s aging leather helmets with him, Rummel became competitive just a year later.
But newly opened Curtis (1962), named for its headmaster, played as an independent against similar small schools like Rugby Academy, Woodlawn of Braithwaite, New Orleans Academy and another first-year Catholic school, Archbishop Shaw.
Coached by former Tulane wide receiver Clem Dellinger, Curtis lost its only two games recorded in 1963.
How times have changed
Rummel and Curtis first met in 1964, a 26-0 rout by the Raiders. For the ensuing 50 years, as the two programs grew to be dynamos, they managed to avoid each other.
That is, until Curtis decided it was time to play up to Class 5A in 2015. Curtis has beaten its Catholic counterpart in four of seven games.
This year’s game matches a Curtis offensive machine that has averaged 50.5 points, but whose defense has yielded an average of 22 points per game.
In its record year (1990) of scoring 611 points through 15 games, Curtis’ scoring average was just 41 points per game.
On the other sideline will be Rummel, which has allowed just three touchdowns (two to St. Augustine) through eight wins.
First-year head coach Nick Monica proved to be an excellent defensive mentor as the Raiders’ defensive coordinator, before Hall of Fame head coach Jay Roth stepped aside. Now, as the school’s athletic director, Roth has handed the reins to Monica with incredible results.
While Rummel will end its regular season on Nov. 8 against Jesuit, Curtis will face Brother Martin.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Brother Martin (7-1) is the No. 4 seed; Holy Cross (4-4) is No. 6; Jesuit (5-3), No. 7; St. Augustine, No. 8, and Shaw (2-6), No. 11.
Ron Brocato can be reached at email@example.com.