John Curtis-Rummel: Players, coaches treating it like any other; but fans saying otherwise _lowres

Advocate photo by ZACH BRIEN -- Rummel running back Maurice Bailey shakes off a tackle on the way to the end zone for a touchdown against Brother Martin last Saturday.

J.T. Curtis and Jay Roth have tried their best to treat Saturday’s game just like the other 850 or so games they’ve coached at their respective schools.

But it’s not.

Saturday’s much-anticipated Catholic League showdown between John Curtis and Rummel, set for 11 a.m. at Yenni Stadium, is far from just another game, despite how hard the coaches try to sell that to their players.

There’s been a different type of buzz around the city about this one between two premier programs.

“It feels a little different around school, like it’s the game of the year,” Rummel offensive lineman Joe Oliver said. “Everybody around school has been looking forward to it. But we just try to treat them all the same and just look at this as the next game.”

Good luck with that.

It’s just the second time the two schools have played and the first time since 1964 when Rummel won 26-0. That doesn’t include two meetings in jamborees.

Rummel (7-1, 4-0) is ranked No. 1 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10, with Curtis (6-1, 3-1) not far behind at No. 3. They are ranked first and fourth in the LSWA’s Class 5A poll.

“I think certainly for fan interest, it has generated a lot of noise,” Curtis said. “We tried to stay very even-keel like we always have. And we recognize that no matter what happens in this one, we could see each other again down the road. But I think this one is good for the community and good for the fans.”

Curtis, playing its first season in the Catholic League, could earn a share of the district title with a victory Saturday, coupled with a win over Shaw in the regular-season finale.

Rummel, meanwhile, would capture its second straight 9-5A title with a win Saturday.

The Raiders are coming off an explosive performance last week when they beat Brother Martin 59-27.

“I thought our offensive line played their best game,” Roth said. “(Quarterback) Chase (Fourcade) was back on track, and he really executed. That was the best we had played on both sides of the ball. We stopped a really good offense.

Roth doesn’t expect his team to suffer from any hangover from last week’s outing.

“This team hasn’t been too low or too high all year,” Roth said. “This team just stays so even-keeled. I almost worry about them sometimes.”

Both teams bring their run-heavy offenses into the game. But Rummel has been a bit more balanced this season. Fourcade has thrown for 1,205 yards, the sixth most in school history.

“Their quarterback is a three-year starter, an excellent football player who runs their offense really well, “Curtis said. “They can run, but they can definitely beat you with the pass, as they showed last week. They were humming last week. They had it all working.”

The Patriots have thrown just 40 passes all season. They rely on a running game led by running backs Devon Benn and Tyrone Chevalier and quarterback Brock Hebert.

“It’s Senior Day for us, and of course, nobody wants to lose on that,” Chevalier said. “I think both teams are really physical. They never quit. We never quit. It should be a pretty (hyped) game.”

And fans won’t have to wait quite as long for this one to kick off. The game was originally scheduled for 2 p.m., but was pushed up to 11 a.m. to try to avoid the bad weather expected in the New Orleans area Saturday.

The players don’t seem to mind the early start one bit.

“Rummel has been the top dog the last couple years, and Curtis has 26 state championships, so I think people want to see the best of the best go at it,” Oliver said.

“Yes, it’s going to be early. But I know both teams will be ready.”