Story and Photos By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports
Additional Photos | COURTESY ARCHBISHOP RUMMEL HIGH SCHOOL
Posing the question of who should be the Outstanding Defensive Player in the Catholic League, two names were mentioned to the coaches: senior linebacker Tyler Grubbs of Holy Cross and senior tackle from Jesuit, Sonny Hazard.
“Don’t forget about our guy, Donovan Kaufman,” chimed in Archbishop Rummel Athletic Director Jay Roth.
The District 9-5A coaches certainly didn’t forget about him at their recent All-District meeting. His name came up frequently.
And even fewer sports types will overlook him as they mull over their postseason all-star teams after Kaufman’s heroics in Rummel’s late rally that gave the Raiders a 14-10 victory over Catholic High of Baton Rouge in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Division I championship game on Dec. 7.
Kaufman, a senior defensive back, scored two touchdowns that put the Raiders ahead twice in the fourth period. The first came on a nine-yard run from a wildcat formation that gave Rummel a 7-3 lead.
The play followed an almost desperation 34-yard pass from junior quarterback Kyle Wickersham to wide-out Koy Moore that put the ball on the Bears’ 24 yard line. A six-yard run by Logan Diggs and half-the-distance penalty on the Bears put the ball at the 9, where Kaufman scored on a run up the middle.
Then, with just 3:09 remaining, Catholic’s Josh Parker put the Bears back on top to cap an 11-play drive when he hauled in a Jackson Thomas screen pass and went 43 yards into the end zone.
Kaufman made sure that lead was short-lived by returning the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to give the Raiders the 14-10 edge they needed.
The Vanderbilt commitment then sealed the deal by intercepting a pass with :02 left. Add to that 11 individual tackles, and it’s easy to see why he was voted Rummel’s Most Outstanding Player of the game.
Catholic, which defeated Rummel, 31-28, in the 2014 Division I championship game, and again in 2017 by the score of 20-14, looked like the better team in the first half at Yulman Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Yulman Stadium does not have goal posts of regulation high school widths. Both coaches agreed to use Tulane’s narrower posts, and it cost Catholic, which missed two field goal tries by inches.
The victory capped a perfect (13-0) rookie season for Rummel head coach Nick Monica.
The weekend would have been doubly meaningful had his father’s St. Charles Catholic team won the Division II title the next night. But Frank Monica’s Comets ended their 11-win season with a 41-14 loss to No. 1 Lafayette Christian.
De La Salle also advanced to the Division II championship game by defeating Teurlings Catholic and University Lab. But the Cavaliers fell short of winning their first title in a big way when No. 1 St. Thomas More won handily, 58-10.
St. Aug takes CYO
A word of caution to players and teams on the St. Augustine basketball schedule: If you miss your first field goal attempt, don’t expect a second try.
In winning their 11th Allstate Sugar Bowl CYO Classic on Dec. 7, the Purple Knights’ scoring and rebounding abilities were evident.
Welcome back. Returning to the traditional December tournament after a brief absence, St. Augustine brought a team that had a hot hand and was defensively sound, as the scores of the tournament will attest.
Coach Mitchell Johnson’s team rolled through Lusher, 71-17; Archbishop Shaw, 63-49; Central Lafourche, 48-37; and dispatched Lee Magnet of Baton Rouge, 56-43, in the championship game.
The CYO selected three St. Augustine players to its all-tournament team: D’Mari Wiltz, named the Most Outstanding Player, and juniors Jaron Pierre and Ashton Trufant.
They joined Isiah Crawford of Shaw and Alex Crawford of Central Lafourche for individual honors.
The CYO Classic will have Brother Martin back in the fold for the 2020 games, said CYO Youth and Young Adult Ministry Director Timmy McCaffery. The Crusaders, winners of two tournament championships, had been a fixture until two years ago when they dropped out.
St. Augustine, the defending District 9-5A champion, will be the team to beat again when district play opens on Jan. 7.
The Purple Knights have few weaknesses and make even fewer mistakes under the watchful eyes of Johnson, who never lets games get out of control.
They have won nine games, losing only to Madison Prep, 39-38, in their first game of the season.
Brother Martin (7-1 entering the week’s action), appears to be the No. 2 team in the Catholic League. Coach Chris Biehl’s Crusaders lost their only game in an out-of-state tournament.
Holy Cross has a 4-4 record, with two losses coming against Division II runner-up De La Salle. But Coach Mister Kirkwood’s Tigers may be the No. 3 team in this district.
The bottom four – Jesuit (3-3), John Curtis (3-3), and Archbishops Shaw (6-2) and Rummel (5-1) – will be competitive in league play.
The most improved team may be Coach Wesley Laurendine’s Shaw squad. The Eagles’ losses are to St. Augustine and to Helen Cox. They have beaten St. Paul’s twice (once in Covington and again at Jesuit).
St. Paul’s doesn’t appear to be as strong as in past years. But the Wolves’ 4-3 record is the best in District 6-5A so far.
Northshore has a 5-5 record, Covington and Mandeville are 4-4, while Fontainebleau (4-5), Ponchatoula (3-4), defending champion Slidell (3-6) and Hammond(3-8) all have losing records in the early part of the season.
Ron Brocato can be reached at email@example.com.