Don’t mention it to Jay Roth before Friday night around 9:30 p.m.
The Rummel coach has been like a Major League pitcher closing in on a no-hitter this week.
He doesn’t want to talk about it, and he won’t talk about it, afraid he may jinx himself from getting to the milestone he could reach Friday night at Tad Gormley.
Roth, in his 21st season at Rummel, is one win away from career win No. 200.
All 199 of the previous wins (and the 49 losses) have come at Rummel.
A victory over Holy Cross would put him in the 200-win club with 50 other coaches in LHSAA history.
If history is any indication, Friday will be his night.
Roth, a 1981 Rummel grad, was 3-0 against Holy Cross as the Raiders starting quarterback.
And as a head coach, Roth has lost to Holy Cross just once. He has won 15 straight against the Tigers. His only loss to the Tigers was in 1995.
That was his first season on Severn Avenue, just shortly after Rummel Athletic Director Phil Greco decided to take a chance on a guy who didn’t have any head coaching experience.
“He was very successful as offensive coordinator at Jesuit, he was a Rummel graduate, and his dad (Easton Roth) was a former head coach at Rummel,” Greco said. “He had all the ingredients I was looking for. I wanted someone young, someone who would stay for a while and somebody who could relate to the alumni and the players. Him being a former player, he could do that. It was just a natural fit. I guess I was proven right.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
Roth has won 80 percent of the games he has coached.
He has had just one losing season (4-6 in 2010).
Heck, he even ended Leonard Fournette’s high school career a game early as Rummel stunned St. Augustine in the 2013 Division I semifinals.
His Rummel team followed that victory a few days later by winning a state championship, the second straight title for the Raiders and the only two in school history.
A third state title in December looks to be within reach.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t grow up dreaming to be a coach.
“My dad was a coach, but he didn’t push me into it,” Roth said.
Roth had other plans, hoping to use his degree in business and marketing that he earned while playing at Nicholls State.
“But I couldn’t find a job in the field,” Roth said.
So he began substitute teaching at East Jefferson, where he was asked to help out coaching football.
The rest, as they say, is history.
He has been helping teams pile up wins ever since.
Cordae Hankton has been there for a good amount of those wins.
Hankton played linebacker for Rummel in the early 2000s and is in his fourth season coaching that position at his alma mater.
“He is one of the most detail-oriented guys you will ever meet,” Hankton said.
Some of the things Roth did when Hankton played, he’s still doing today.
While most coaches use technology like hudl for practice schedules, Roth still handwrites his schedules for his coaches.
“He pays attention to everything, and that’s helped me a lot,” Hankton said. “And he treats everybody fairly, from the superstar on the team to the last guy.”
And the expectations start long before practice begins each day.
“His time with you and the expectations he has for the players start at 7:50 a.m. when you get here,” Hankton said. “He wants things his way. You know what he expects and what he looks for. You’re going to be on time for practice, you’re going to respect everybody. And it’s all day. He is involved with everything and makes sure you do things the right way.”
That formula has worked 199 times for Roth.
Win No. 200 should be coming anyday now.
If not Friday, sometimes soon.
Not that Roth would ever tell you.
“He hasn’t said a word about it,” Hankton said.
So Shh... Don’t mention it.