By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports
More often than not, gambling is a losing proposition.
It was for John Curtis, whose attempt at a two-point conversion in overtime against Archbishop Rummel failed, giving the Raiders the opportunity to win their first District 9-5A championship since 2013.
Then again, sometimes the gambler hits it big … as Brother Martin head coach Mark Bonis did by going for two points with 5:03 left in the Crusaders’ homecoming game against Holy Cross.
Bonis put his cards in the hand of junior running back Chris Smith, who provided the winning margin.
Leading, 28-7, at one point, Holy Cross threatened to ruin the Crusaders’ homecoming and its reuniting of the 1989 state runner-up football team. But a second-half rally turned the game around and set the stage for the dramatic finish.
In the Rummel-Curtis overtime – the game was tied 14-14 in regulation – Curtis opted to play defense first and appeared to have the Raiders stymied. But an encroachment penalty on third down gave Rummel a reprieve, and quarterback Kyle Wickersham completed a TD pass to Logan Diggs for a 21-14 lead.
When Curtis got the ball, it took just two plays for the Patriots to cross the Raiders’ goal on quarterback Collin Guggenheim’s 2-yard run, making it 21-20. But Guggenheim tried it again on the conversion attempt and came up short. Both outcomes on Nov. 1 resulted in one-point victories: 21-20 for Rummel and 29-28 for Brother Martin.
Rummel’s victory under first-year head coach Nick Monica gives the Raiders the inside track at winning the district championship.
But the task won’t be easy. Jesuit, which last week defeated Hahnville, 24-14, on the road, will be a formidable opponent certainly capable of springing an upset when the two meet at Tad Gormley Stadium on Nov. 8.
With one game remaining until the Division I select school playoffs kick off, Rummel is undefeated in five district games.
Brother Martin and Curtis are tied for second place at 4-1 and play on Nov. 8 at Yulman Stadium to break the tie.
The district campaigns for Holy Cross and St. Augustine have produced just one win for each (against Archbishop Shaw, which sits winless at the bottom of the pile).
That will change for either the Tigers or Purple Knights, who close the regular season against each other on Nov. 9 at Gormley.
Ron Brocato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.