Defense helps Rummel into quarterfinals

METAIRIE — The playoff theory says that as the postseason advancement grows deeper, the incline become steeper.

That script applies to the No. 1-seeded Rummel Raiders, who cruised past the Lafayette Lions 49-7 in Class 5A bidistrict play but encountered a thorough examination at the hands of Dutchtown in a 21-10 regional victory last week.

The No. 1-ranked Raiders (11-0) now face the highest of hurdles this postseason and the first playoff road trip Friday when they venture to Monroe to face Ouachita (10-2) at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals, with the victor facing the Mandeville-Catholic-Baton Rouge winner in the semifinals.

Rummel and Ouachita last met in the 1997 regionals, when Rummel rallied in the second half for a 34-20 victory.

“A typical north Louisiana team,” said Rummel coach Jay Roth of the Lions. “Big, physical, in your face; a strong-looking team.”

Ouachita’s two losses have come at the hands of
No. 1-seeded and defending Class 4A champion Neville 21-3 and defending Class 5A champion West Monroe 35-7, but the Lions have defeated traditional power Evangel 52-27.

Although the Raiders feature 6-foot-1, 225-pound senior Damian Williams as their offensive centerpiece at quarterback, the Rummel defense has been just as reliable, holding seven opponents to 10 points or fewer and no team has come within 11 points of the Raiders in the regular or postseason. That defensive unit consists of six seniors and five juniors.

One look at the program listings of the Rummel linebackers might convince one that they are small, but they are not. Short? Yes, but not minute.

Senior Terrence Jones stands just 5-foot-7, but he is thickly muscled and weighs 185 pounds.

Senior Michael Kennedy (5-8, 180) and speedy Joshua Franklin (5-6, 167) also fit the same mold.

Jones has 37 solo tackles and 28 assists in nine games. Franklin, a three-year starter, has 40 tackles despite missing three games and Kennedy has 48 solo tackles and 28 assists.

Kennedy’s younger brother Matthew, a junior first-year starter at defensive tackle, has 57 stops.

“Our defensive line does a good job of keeping our linebackers free,” Franklin said. “They really help us out.

“We try to approach each game as the same, but we know there is a certain feeling about the playoffs,” Franklin said. “We have a sense of brotherhood on this team. No one is treated differently.”

“Our defense has come together, and it is playing as one,” Matthew Kennedy said.”We’re playing like our hair is on fire.

“We want to play on more of a consistent basis during the regular season, but we all know there is no room for error in the playoffs.”

Both teams sport dangerous offenses.

Ouachita has scored 40 or more points on five occasions; Rummel has topped that mark eight times.

Ouachita was a state champion is 1989, rolling past Brother Martin 35-7 in the title game. Rummel remains in quest of the school’s first football title.