Fambrough: The stories this week’s Prep Classic can tell _lowres

Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZA -- Rummel coach Jay Roth talks to an official during a timeout in a game against John Curtis on Oct. 31 at Joe Yenni Stadium in Metairie.

Rummel coach Jay Roth said it after every Catholic League game during the postgame handshake.

“We’ll see you down the road,” Roth would tell the opposing coaches.

To nobody’s surprise, he was exactly right when he told that to J.T. Curtis on Oct. 31.

Top-seeded Rummel (10-1) and No. 5 Curtis (8-2) will play again at 7 p.m. Friday at Joe Yenni Stadium in the select Division I semifinals.

The stakes are much higher this time around, though.

“Dome or go home,” Rummel quarterback Chase Fourcade said.

The winner advances to the championship game Dec. 4 to play the Evangel Christian- Catholic High winner.

Curtis, seeking its 27th state championship, is looking to keep a remarkable streak going.

The Patriots have played in the title game every year since 1996. To keep that run going, they will have to avenge the 21-14 regular-season loss to the Raiders.

Rummel is undefeated this season against in-state opponents and enters Friday’s game on a seven-game winning streak.

Ending Curtis’ string of trips to the title game isn’t the only thing Rummel will be trying to end.

The Raiders are also looking to break the Catholic League champion jinx.

In the past two seasons, the team that won the District 9-5A title lost in the semifinals of the playoffs against a team it defeated in the regular season.

Rummel was on both ends of it.

In 2013, Rummel stunned Leonard Fournette and district champion St. Augustine in the semifinals on its way to winning the second of back-to-back titles.

Last season, Rummel was the district champion, but fell to Jesuit in the semifinals.

Now the Raiders are district champions again, winning four of the six Catholic League games by double digits. Holy Cross and Curtis both lost by seven points to Rummel.

“Curtis was the toughest team we played,” Fourcade said. “They have great athletes, and they are so disciplined.”

Both teams are known more for their potent running attacks and stingy defenses.

But both used their passing games last week to prevail.

Fourcade, who is committed to Nicholls State, set a school single-game record with his 352 passing yards in the quarterfinals against Jesuit.

For Curtis, it was a 41-yard fourth-quarter pass from Brock Hebert to Travis O’Connor that set up the game-winning touchdown against St. Paul’s.

But it’s the running game that has been both teams’ bread and butter over the years.

The Curtis ground game is led by senior Devon Benn, who has rushed for 1,044 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Rummel counters with Maurice Bailey (716 yards, eight TDs), Israel Tucker (499 yards, seven TDs) and Fourcade (482 yards).

Defensively, the Raiders are led by defensive lineman Briston Guidry, linebacker Derrick Munson and cornerback Kristian Fulton.

Curtis is led on defense by Nathaniel Evans (88 tackles), Garrett Wallow (67 tackles) and Tariq Pierce (61 tackles). Taj Bickham’s four interceptions lead the secondary.

It’s just the second time the two schools have played since J.T. Curtis took over at Curtis in 1969.

“We went 50 something years without playing them, and now we play them twice in the same year,” Roth said. “If you want to get to the Dome, you have to win this. For Thanksgiving week in New Orleans, it’s a pretty big game for fans to come and see.”