Holy Cross holds off St. Aug for Catholic League win _lowres

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH-- St. Augustine quarterback Justice McCoy makes a pitchout against Holy Cross on Oct. 29 at Tad Gormley Stadium.

On paper, it looks to be a mismatch.

Rummel is undefeated against Louisiana teams and ranked No. 1 in The New Orleans Advocate Large School Super 10 and the LSWA Class 5A poll.

St. Augustine, meanwhile, has won just two games and is on a four-game losing skid.

But the game won’t be played on paper. It will be played on the turf at Joe Yenni Stadium at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

And as Rummel coach Jay Roth will tell you (along with anyone else who has played St. Augustine this season), the Purple Knights aren’t your typical two-win team.

“You can throw their record out the door,” Roth said. “They are as talented as anybody we’ve played. The kids know that we are going to be in for a battle.”

And no, Roth wasn’t just spewing out coach-speak. He knows his Raiders (8-1, 5-0 in District 9-5A) will have their hands full against the Purple Knights (2-7, 2-3).

St. Aug’s résumé includes a win over one of the city’s best teams (Brother Martin) and a one touchdown loss to powerhouse John Curtis that wasn’t decided until a fourth-quarter interception was returned for a touchdown.

“My kids understand that (St. Aug quarterback Justice) McCoy is the leading passer in the city,” Roth said. “We know they have four receivers in the top 15. If it was like years past where you are 2-7 and you’re not going to the playoffs, maybe they would say ‘OK, the season is over’ and lay down. But they are going to the playoffs, and they are a good football. A win over Rummel could propel them to big things in the playoffs. So they have plenty to play for.”

Five of St. Aug’s seven losses have been by seven points or less.

“We have a good team,” St. Aug coach Al Jones said. “We have always been one play away from winning a game. A penalty here, a dropped pass there. We just haven’t put it all together.”

Jones would like nothing more than to see that happen Saturday. His team last tasted victory in late September and early October when it posted back-to-back wins against Jesuit and Brother Martin.

And he knows it won’t be easy, even if Rummel did sew up its second straight Catholic League title last week.

“No way Rummel is going to just lay down just because they have won the Catholic League already,” Jones said. “They have a solid program. It doesn’t matter what they have done two or three weeks before they play us. It’s an old-school rivalry. Even though they’ve won the district, they still want to go out as winner.”

In fact, that’s the message Roth has preached to his team all week.

“The theme of the week has been ‘finish what we started,’ ” Roth said. “Let’s finish the season strong. Yes, we are Catholic League champions, but let’s finish what we started.”

A victory would give the Raiders their second straight year of going perfect in Catholic League play during the regular season.

They are the No. 1 team in the most recent Division I power rankings and will have a bye next week when the playoffs begin.

The Purple Knights, meanwhile, are ranked last (No. 10) and will begin their playoff run next week.

But don’t let that disparity in the power rankings fool you about this regular-season finale.

“It’s going to be a tough game, a typical Rummel-St. Aug game,” Jones said. “We are both going to show up and fight to the end.”