NEW ORLEANS — The last time Archbishop Rummel played in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm Prep Classic, it was not the best of times.
Quarterback Damian Williams was a freshman starter in the Raiders’ 30-0 loss to West Monroe in the 2009 Class 5A title game.
Williams got a second chance to lead Rummel to a title Saturday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and he ran with it. The senior completed 11-of-13 passes for 193 yards with two touchdowns and also ran for 52 yards in a 35-14 victory over Barbe.
“Your quarterback is a guy who is supposed to put the team on his shoulders and lead you,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “He’s supposed to be the MVP. Damian did that and made some big plays, which is what we expected.”
Williams netted Outstanding Player honors for Rummel. Running back Keith Fulton, receiver Steven Dunbar and the Rummel defense also proved to be prime time performers as the Raiders won the first state title in the 49-year football history of the school.
Fulton ran for a game-high 132 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns as Rummel put the game away with a 22-0 surge. Dunbar caught six passes for 119 yards and one TD.
The final game of the LHSAA’s football championships featured two key turning points. One came seconds before the half ended, thanks to a Rummel offense that had controlled the clock.
Barbe’s third first-half possession began with 1:33 left on the clock. It looked like Kennon Fontenot had completed a 49-yard TD pass to tight end Desean Smith on the final play of the half.
However, offsetting penalties nullified the play, and Rummel took a 13-7 lead at halftime.
Things didn’t get much better for the Bucs and their explosive offense in the second half, but Fontenot did toss a 23-yard TD pass to Smith in the third quarter that gave Barbe a 14-13 lead.
Barbe’s junior quarterback came into the game with more than 4,000 yards passing. On Saturday night, he finished 13-of-26 for just 167 yards with two TDs and two fourth-quarter interceptions.
Rummel started its go-ahead drive with 2:56 left in the third quarter. Williams had already thrown first-half TD passes to Dunbar and Cethan Carter. A 34-yard pass to Dunbar gave the Raiders a first-and-goal at the Barbe 3 and set up a 1-yard TD run by Fulton.
Barbe drove to the Rummel 43. But on fourth-and-6, the Raiders pressured Fontenot, and his pass to Smith fell incomplete. Williams capitalized immediately, tossing a 38-yard pass to Dunbar to set up a 4-yard TD run by Fulton that gave Rummel a 28-14 lead with 7:21 left in the game.
The final two Barbe possessions ended with interceptions. Austin Vance returned the first interception 35 yards to set up another 4-yard TD run by Fulton with 2:09 remaining. Henre’ Toliver’s interception with 48 seconds left clinched the win.
By the time the Raiders returned to their school in Metairie, there was no place for the buses to park other than in the street because of all the students, fans and alumni already there. So an early-morning block party began.
“We played our butts off,” Roth said.
“This is just a great thing for the school, the alumni and the Rummel community.”