How they got here
BYRD had a regional bye, beat No. 10 Archbishop Shaw 24-0 in the quarterfinals, and beat No. 6 Holy Cross 14-10 in the semifinals.
RUMMEL had a regional bye, beat No. 4 Scotlandville 17-14 in the quarterfinals, and beat No. 1 St. Augustine 31-28 in the semifinals.
BYRD: Seven (last: 1962); RUMMEL: One (2012).
Last time in the state final
Rummel beat Barbe 35-14 in the 5A final last season for its first state championship. ... Istrouma defeated Byrd 21-14 in the AAA title game in 1962.
Storyline: Tough road to title game
Rummel has taken a more challenging journey this season to the state finals, winning big games and losing others to the ire of coach Jay Roth. It’s the journey of the 2012 Class 5A state champions that transformed a potential rebuilding year into a second berth in the state finals. Byrd has enjoyed an even less impressive run through the playoffs, its offense managing just 38 points in two games.
BYRD: Byrd plays best when its ground game dominates. During its semifinal win against Holly Cross, Byrd did not throw a pass during its two scoring drives. The Yellow Jackets completed one pass for 15 yards, and rushed for 239 yards.
RUMMEL: The Raiders, like Byrd, will mainly stick to the ground, but with a few more passing options.
RUMMEL: Ivan Phipps (1,108 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Keith Fulton (611 yards, five TDs) push the Rummel offense. ... Sophomore quarterback Chase Fourcade, the son of the former Ole Miss linebacker Keith Fourcade and Saints quarterback John Fourcade, enters Thursday’s game with 1,377 yards and 10 TDs with six interceptions. Steve Dunbar has caught 45 passes for 551 yards and four scores. ... BYRD: Louis Mills has rushed for 928 yards and 16 TDs. Teammate Dominic Haggerty has 785 yards and 10 scores. Combined, they average 7.6 yards a carry. Seven rushers have compiled at least 250 yards, and nine players have scored at least two rushing scores. Jordan Powell has caught 15 passes for 381 yards with seven scores, more than half of quarterback Tyler Howard’s 566 yards, and all of his passing TDs.
ROD WALKER’S WINNER: Both teams love to run. But this one will be about the other 3 Rs: Roth, Raiders, Repeat
RUMMEL 28, BYRD 17