Rummel grinds out win over Teurlings Catholic _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Rusty Costanza -- Taylor Fourcade, center, watches as his brother, Rummel quarterback Chase Fourcade, takes some pre-game snaps before a state quarterfinal playoff game against Teurlings Catholic at Joe Yenni Stadium in Metairie.

Taylor Fourcade never got a chance to score a touchdown like his younger brother Chase, Rummel’s junior quarterback.

He never got the opportunity to see what it feels like to sack a quarterback like his father Keith did back in the day at Shaw and later at Ole Miss.

And he never got to throw a game-winning touchdown like his uncle John, who played at Ole Miss and later for the New Orleans Saints.

Cerebral palsy prevented Taylor Fourcade from doing any of that.

But it hasn’t stopped the 21-year-old from pursuing his passion: football.

Fourcade is in his first year helping as an assistant coach at Rummel.

“It brings tears to my eyes,” said Keith Fourcade, Taylor’s dad. “I remember when he was 4 or 5 years old and he asked me if he would ever be able to walk. I told him there would be some things he could do that other people can’t, and there would be some things other people can do that he can’t. But because you are in this wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t do other things.”

So Taylor is doing the next best thing.

Fourcade isn’t just some coach in name who shows up just on game day.

He’s at every practice, learning the game that runs deep in those Fourcade veins.

“Coming from a football family, I always wanted to be a part of it,” Taylor said. “It’s awesome. I’m learning a lot from (head) coach Jay Roth and (offensive line) coach Lee (Roussel).”

Among the things he said he’s learned in his first year are “how to run a practice, how to communicate with the players, and how to break down film.”

On Saturday, he sat in a section near the end zone of Yenni Stadium, safely tucked away from the chaos of the sideline, and watched Rummel beat Teaurlings Catholic 28-20 in the quarterfinals of the Division I playoffs.

The guy who Rummel players simply call “Coach T” was all smiles afterwards.

“We blocked well and the defense played well,” said Taylor, who helps with the offensive line.

It was that offensive line that helped Rummel rack up 329 rushing yards Saturday. It was Taylor’s younger brother, Chase, who got a big chunk of those yards, rushing 12 times for 110 yards as the Raiders won their 17th consecutive game.

Credit the offensive line for opening the holes.

But credit Taylor Fourcade for Chase’s inspiration.

“He is the reason why I play,” Chase said. “If he wasn’t in that wheelchair, he would be doing just what I am doing. He is my brother, he’s my mentor. I look up to him. I love him.”

Taylor doesn’t mind giving his little brother pointers during practice.

“It was weird at first, but I got used to it,” Taylor said. “I still have to get onto him sometimes when he isn’t stepping into his throws.”

But while Taylor teaches, he is also learning.

And he is getting to do so from a coaching staff that is going for its third consecutive state title.

The idea came about in the spring as Taylor Fourcade and Roussel talked about the possibilities.

“I would have been a Grinch if I didn’t allow it,” Roth said. “Now I am so glad I did. Taylor is learning football. He doesn’t miss a practice and he is not late. He knows what’s going on and is very knowledgeable.”

He was dedicated during the summer when he constantly met with Roussel, the O-line coach. The questions he asked in those meetings let Roussel know that Taylor knew his stuff.

“He is a blessing to us,” Roussel said. “The kids respect him.”

It helps that Coach T is always wearing that smile.

“It’s tough to complain if you are a player and you see him come out there, always with a smile on his face,” Roussel said. “He never complains about anything. He has every right to, but he doesn’t. He is a guy who loves the game of football, but can never play it. But he is doing what he can with the game as a coach and he is a good one.”

He’s also an inspiration at home.

Jill Fourcade, Chase and Taylor’s mom, refers to Taylor as “the rock of the family.”

“He just makes everything easy because of who is and how he is,” she said. “He doesn’t view it as a handicap at all.”

Taylor, who was an honor student at East Jefferson, is now a student at Delgado Community College, where he is studying business. But his desire is to coach, something he has always done while helping his father in recreational leagues.

“He just wanted somebody to give him a shot,” his father said. “He feels included now. People don’t look at him as a guy in a wheelchair. They look at him as a guy who overcame adversity. Football is his passion. Being around this atmosphere, being around the team, being around his brother, it’s very rewarding.”

Now he wants the ultimate reward: a state title. He was in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last year when his alma mater East Jefferson captured the Class 4A state title. He was also there when his little brother helped Rummel win the Division I crown.

Now he would like to win a ring of his own.

With Rummel now just two games away from a title, there’s a chance.

And a chance is all Coach T ever wanted.