By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
In these days of power-point driven playoff pairings for high school football, you really don’t know who you might be matched up with. But there is one type of team that you don’t want to face – a team that is under seeded, often because of injuries or just back luck.
A team that, let’s say, lost three games by one possession or less. That’s a team that might just be more unlucky than “un-good.”
Welcome to the world of Northwood football.
The 15th-seeded Falcons (5-5) are thrilled to be playing host to a first round Division 1 (Select) playoff game tonight at 7 o’clock at Jerry Burton Stadium.
They are not thrilled about their opponent.
When all the math got calculated, Archbishop Rummel of the Catholic League finished as the No. 18 seed, earning the Raiders a trip to Blanchard to take on the Falcons.
Rummel is 4-6 overall but meets all of the criteria listed above. The Raiders have been hampered by injuries and lost the final three games of the regular season by one possession in each. Two of those games were to teams in the top 5 (Brother Martin, Edna Karr) of the Division 1 power rankings.
Oh, and there is this – Rummel beat renowned state power John Curtis, the No. 6 seed in Division 1, 27-21 earlier this year.
Did that get your attention?
It certainly got the attention of Northwood coach Austin Brown. “They have no weak spot,” Brown said. “Usually when you look at tape of a team you don’t know much about, you try to exploit their weak spot. They have don’t have one.”
But there is some good news, according to Brown.
“They don’t have Ja’Marr Chase,” he said, referring to the former Raider and current All-Pro receiver for Cincinnati.
As many as 11 starters have been out at various times of the year for Brother Martin. “But it’s still the Catholic League,” Brown said. “It’s like the SEC used to be a few years ago when every game was 21-20 or 13-10 and you are going to get beat up after every game.”
There is a different feel to the playoffs this year for the Falcons, who have overcome the loss of most of their productivity from last year.
“We lost so much production from last year on both sides of the ball, but we now have 10 games under our belts,” Brown said. “I’m not really a rah-rah guy and our team isn’t that way either, but we do understand the magnitude of the opportunity we have in front of us.”
A year ago, the Falcons made it to quarterfinals before being defeated 28-14 by Brother Martin, another Catholic League team.
“Playing Brother Martin (last year) was the first time I had ever seen any Catholic League football,” Brown said. “I was mesmerized by it when I was looking at video. I’d like to eventually see ourselves model how they play (in the Catholic League).”
The Falcons are one of four local schools who will be at home for the first round of the playoffs.
At Independence Stadium, 12th-seeded Huntington will play 21st-seeded Woodlawn (Baton Rouge), which had only three games this year in which it scored more than two touchdowns.
Evangel will be at Rodney Duron Stadium to take on 3-7 Belaire (Baton Rouge) in the Division II (select) playoffs.
Loyola (4-5) will be at home at Messmer Stadium for a first-ever meeting with Ascension Episcopal (Lafayette) at 7 o’clock in the Division III (select) playoffs. The Flyers are trying to win their third straight opening round playoff game. The Blue Gators are 6-4.
Parkway (at Belle Chasse), Benton (at Walker), Byrd (at Jesuit), Woodlawn (at Madison Prep), BTW (at Livingston Collegiate) and Green Oaks (at Notre Dame) will all be on the road in the first round.
Calvary, Captain Shreve and Airline all have a bye to the second round.
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No. 18 RUMMEL (4-6) at No. 15 NORTHWOOD (5-5)
Where: Jerry Burton Stadium
Series: first meeting
Last week: Rummel lost to Jesuit 13-10; Northwood lost to North DeSoto 64-29
Rankings: Northwood #7 in final SBJ Top 10 poll
Notables: Northwood is playing in the playoffs for the 26th time and seventh straight … The Falcons average 29 points per game … Northwood senior quarterback Hutson Hearron has passed for 1,634 yards and 18 touchdowns … Tucker McCabe is the leading receiver with 44 catches for 671 yards and 11 touchdowns … Sophomore Jerimiah Johnson leads the defense with 67 tackles and four interceptions … Elijah Crawford has four interceptions, one for a touchdown and a punt return for a score … The Raiders average 24.3 points per game … Rummel is making its 36th playoff appearance … The Raiders play in the Catholic League of 9-5A … They lost their last three games by a total of 16 points.