The first thing Chase Fourcade did after he walked inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for practice Thursday was walk over to his coach Jay Roth.
“I told him how being back in the Dome brings back memories from my sophomore year,” Fourcade said. “It’s a great feeling to be back in here because you know you’ve accomplished something when you get here.”
Moments later, Fourcade and the other 29 seniors on the Raiders team posed for a group photo before going through their last practice together.
On Friday night, the Rummel seniors will look to put the exclamation point on their careers when they play Catholic High for the Division I state championship.
“When it’s all said and done, this might be one of the best four-year spans in Rummel football,” Roth said about his seniors.
Kickoff for the game between the top-seed Raiders (11-1) and the No. 6 seed Bears (9-3) is set for 8:30 p.m.
Rummel is going for its third state title in four years.
“It doesn’t get old,” said Roth, who guided his alma mater to crowns in 2012 and 2013.
In order for Roth and his Raiders to get a third state late Friday night (or maybe in the wee hours of Saturday morning), they’ll have to remain perfect against Catholic.
Rummel is 3-0 all-time against the Baton Rouge school, including a 17-14 victory in the 2014 regular season and a 32-7 win in 2013. The only other meeting between the two schools was in the 2001 postseason when the Raiders won 28-21 in double overtime.
Rummel also beat Catholic during a scrimmage in August.
“This ain’t the same team that we saw in the scrimmage, I promise you,” Roth said. “They remind me a lot of Brother Martin because they can score some points. They excel in the kicking game and there was no kicking game in the scrimmage, so this will be a whole different ballgame.”
Catholic coach Dale Weiner agrees that not much should be put into that scrimmage.
“I don’t think that’s an advantage or a disadvantage,” Weiner said. “I think we know each other’s tendencies very well. But a lot has changed since August when we scrimmaged. Both teams have evolved.”
Rummel is undefeated against in-state opponents this season and enters the Dome on an eight-game winning streak.
Catholic started the season 0-2, but since has won eight of its past nine, including a 49-48 victory over Brother Martin in the quarterfinals and a 27-21 ovetime victory over Evangel in the semifinals. They trailed 21-0 at one point in that one.
“Obviously, we can’t start like we did last week,” Weiner said. “We have to be efficient and take advantage of the chances we have. We pride ourselves in special teams and so do they, but with that said, I think there will be a key special teams play. In games like this, there always are.”
Other than Rummel’s 10-3 loss to Don Bosco (New Jersey) Prep, only two teams (Holy Cross and John Curtis in the regular season) have been able to stay within single digits of Rummel.
The Raiders offense, normally known for its running game, has opened up the past two weeks.
“Chase Fourcade is the reason we are where we are right now, especially on offense,” Roth said. “Chase has thrown for over 650 yards over the last two games.
“For some schools, that’s average. For Rummel, that’s a season. It makes it fun to call a game when you have a guy under center who can take care of the ball.”
For the Rummel defense, the biggest test is slowing down Catholic junior running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has rushed for 1,249 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“They are a completely different team than when we scrimmaged them,” Rummel defensive lineman Briston Guidry said. “They have gotten better and No. 22 (Edwards-Helaire) is one of the best backs we have seen all year.”
Guidry is one of the seniors looking to go out with a bang, adding a third state title in four years to go with the back-to-back Catholic League titles won in 2014 and 2015.
“It brings some good memories being back in here,” Guidry said Thursday. “It’s a good feeling to be back. We feel like we belong here anyway.”