Making a case for the defense

By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

Are the Archbishop Rummel Raiders ready to win a Division I football championship under a new head coach, you ask? It darn sure looks like it.

Since the resignation of long-time head coach Jay Roth to man the athletic director’s duties a year ago, the Raiders’ football fortunes have been in the hands of former head baseball coach Nick Monica.

And, to borrow an expression, he knows a thing or two about an opponent’s offense because he’s seen a thing or two.

Son of the great St. Charles Catholic mentor Frank Monica, Nick had to follow veteran defensive coordinator Eddie Jacquillard, who left Rummel in 2017 to become the defensive coordinator at De La Salle.

It was a good coaching move for both: Coach Ryan Manale’s De La Salle squad is the No. 2 seed in the Division II playoffs after having shut out all three district rivals, and Rummel is the No. 1 seed in Division I.

A jolting tackle by Archbishop Rummel’s Jordan Williams forced a fumble by Jesuit quarterback Grant Jordan (3) when the two long-time rivals clashed at Tad Gormley Stadium on Nov. 8. Rummel won the game, 27-0.

And the defense has ruled the last 10 weeks with head man Monica still setting the formations.

Rummel has held its opponents to 45 points, the fewest by a New Orleans school since 2008 when Brother Martin allowed just 37 points.

A case for Monica’s defense: That unit limited John Curtis, which had averaged 45.4 points per game through eight games, to just 20 points. This is the same Curtis juggernaut that blasted Landry-Walker for 72 points, scored 61 on Lake Placid, Florida; 62 on Holy Cross and 55 on Archbishop Shaw and Westlake, Georgia.

Rummel, No. 2 Catholic High, No. 3 Curtis and No. 4 Brother Martin drew byes for the first playoff round on Nov. 14.

But No. 6 seed Jesuit will host No. 11 Shaw, No. 7 Holy Cross will host No. 10 St. Paul’s, and No. 8 St. Augustine will be at home for No. 9 Byrd. It should be a busy week at Tad Gormley Stadium.

De La Salle has a bye in Division II, while No. 6 Archbishop Hannan will be at home against No. 11 Vandebilt Catholic. And St. Charles Catholic, the Division III No. 3 seed, has the week off.

Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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