John Curtis is hungry for a state championship. The Patriots have dropped the past two Class 2A state championship games to Evangel Christian, and two years without a ring is somewhat of a drought for Curtis, which has routinely captured consecutive state titles since its inception in 1962.
This fall, the outlook is promising for the suburban New Orleans program. Seniors Dillon Gordon (LSU commit) and Torrey Bell (Mississippi State commit) are two reasons for the Pats to be excited, and there's plenty more talent on the roster.
"We're coming along," said coach Jeff Curtis, who was taking a break this morning after practice. "We're starting to develop some leadership. We're getting better every day and that's the key - not getting complacent."
With that, Curtis began an in-depth breakdown of the vast array of talent on his team.
"Dillon Gordon is playing a little more defense for us in fall camp," said Curtis of the three-star TE. "If our young tight ends step up, we'll be able to use Dillon at outside linebacker. As a freshman and sophomore, Dillon spent considerable time on defense and he looks goods on defense. He can really help us there.
"In college, I could see him as a tight end, an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman. He's very agile. It all depends on how LSU wants to use him and how his body develops. Defensive end isn't out of the question in college. The question is how will Dillon (currently in the 6-4 to 6-5 and 250-pound range) carry his weight?"
With three-star defensive tackle Marcel Andry transferring across town to St. Augustine, the Patriots will count heavily on Bell, a 6-foot-5 defensive end/linebacker.
"Torrey is becoming more physical and demonstrating more leadership qualities," said Curtis. "He's working hard and getting after it. I feel that Torrey's best football is definitely in front of him."
Last year's leading tackler - junior linebacker Duke Riley - should have another monster season.
"Duke's biggest asset is he can really run," said Curtis. "To give you a quick example, one of our wide receivers caught a post in practice and Duke chased him down all the way across the field - and that receiver isn't slow.
"Duke is exceptional. He's rangy with a great stride. How many players make 20 tackles in the state championship? I don't know if Duke set a record when he did that last year, but it has to be close. He's had a tremendous camp."
Cornerback Richard Allen - another junior - was timed at 4.38 at the New Orleans Under Armour Combine.
"He can fly," said Curtis. "Richard is as fast - maybe faster - than Josh Hanberry (JCC football/track star who graduated this spring). He's the fastest player on the team.
"Jacolby Cooper needs to grow a little bit. He's a runner, a hurdler who does very well in the relays for us. He's a true corner and another kid who loves to compete."
The Patriots' split-back veer attack will be buoyed by a host of talented backs, including '13 prospects Tevin Horton and Sherman Badie.
"At running back, we're going to feel our way through," said Curtis. "We have a bunch of guys who can play. Several of them got experience last year on defense. Tevin is certainly someone we are looking to. Yesterday, he had a cramp issue and so we held him out of this morning's practice. He's so lean that it's easy for him to cramp up. Hopefully he'll be able to go this afternoon.
"We're excited about Raekwon James and Brandon Porter, too. We'll have to see how it all shakes out at running back. It's not easy for a freshman or sophomore to step in and compete against the type of schedule we have, but Raekwon did it last year."
The Patriots have their customary, beefy offensive line to open holes in the power running game.
"Jonathan Levens (6-7, 280, Sr.) is a first-year guy (starter), so he's a little behind in terms of experience," said Curtis. "He's such a big guy; if he figures out where he's going on the field, he has a lot of potential.
"Brandon Godfrey is around 6-foot-2, 260 pounds. He's a junior whose brother is our offensive line coach (Jerry Godfrey). His brother was All-Conference at Tulane. His dad is 6-foot-10, so Brandon might not be finished growing. He's a vocal leader and will play center for us.
"Anthony Taylor is a tremendous physical specimen. He's 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds. It seems inconceivable, but Anthony (another junior) is still young and still may have room to grow."