(Last week's 2A picks: 1-1) (Overall this year: 108-42) (Cumulative: 227-77)
No. 1 John Curtis (13-0) vs. No. 2 Winnfield (14-0)
Last week, John Curtis jumped all over two-time defending state champ Evangel Christian, 38-6. After losing to the Eagles in both the '09 and '10 championship games, the Patriots got over the "Evangel hump" with a swarming defense that punished the visitors from north Louisiana with several sacks.
Junior Duke Riley (6-1, 200) moved from inside linebacker to the outside against the Evangel spread offense, clearing the path for Eric Thomas in the middle. The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Thomas racked up four sacks and blocked a field goal as Curtis cruised to the easy win. Riley recorded nine tackles, and DE Torrey Bell (6-5, 230, Sr.) and DT Chris Lorden (6-1, 245, Sr.) each had a pair of sacks. Junior LB Fred Beauford (6-0, 220) collected 10 tackles and yet another sack as the Patriots applied relentless pressure to Evangel QB Dakota Duron.
You can't leave out junior Cyle Cortez (6-1, 250), who also registered a sack. As a team, the Patriots have 64 sacks on the year, an average of almost five per game.
There's talk that this could be the fastest, strongest Curtis defense in years. The secondary - exploited by Evangel in the past - is no longer a weak spot. DBs Jacolby Cooper, Brandon Porter, Prine Lewis, Richard Allen and Terrance Alexander are good - and they'll all be back next year.
On offense, freshman QB Abby Touzet (6-1, 200) left no doubt that he is more-than-capable running Curtis' option offense. Touzet, who took over the reins from junior Patrick Morton after the latter's season ended early due to injury, connected on 4-of-4 passes last week for 69 yards. He also reached the end zone on a 13-yard keeper.
The Patriots have rushed for almost 4,200 yards on the year behind an offensive line led by juniors Brandon Godfrey (6-4, 265) and Anthony Taylor (6-6, 330). Sherman Badie paces the ground attack with 1,132 yards and 18 TDs. Tevin Horton has 736 yards and 13 TDs and is averaging just shy of 11 yards per carry. Sophomores George Moreira (5-9, 185) and Raekwon James have combined for another 1,000-plus yards.
Receivers Tre Perrier, Kaylon Bernard, Jordan Morton and Malachi Dupre have almost 650 yards combined yards receiving. Perrier (21-395) is the number one target. Senior tight end Dillon Gordon (6-5, 250), an LSU commit, is a tremendous blocker on the edge. Gordon is also averaging more than 18 yards per catch with a couple of TDs.
Winnfield fell behind in the first half last week to No. 3 Calvary Baptist but rallied for a demonstrative 41-21 win. LB Frank Swafford had eight tackles and a forced fumble for the Tigers, who trailed 14-0 at one point. Senior RB Trey Gilbert gained 160 yards on 16 totes with four touchdowns.
The Tigers have a highly-touted senior prospect in Alonzo Moore, a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder with offers from Nebraska and Mississippi State, among others. Projected as a receiver, Moore (pictured, below) also has the makings of a fine safety on the next level. He spends considerable time at quarterback for Winnfield, which - with good reason - feels quite comfortable with the ball in the hands of their leader.
Winnfield has an excellent junior prospect in DE/WR Michael Patterson.
BOTTOM LINE: Curtis has to love the storyline here. The Patriots are gunning for their first state title in three years vs. Winnfield, a team that defeated Curtis in the 1982 2A championship game.
On top of that, Curtis is the villain to most fans across the state, a private school powerhouse from the New Orleans metro area. The overwhelming public sentiment (no pun intended) lies with the small-town Tigers from rural north Louisiana.
The Patriots will enter the Superdome with an
"Us Against the World" mentality and snatch the championship trophy - a fitting end to a season that was previously highlighted by head coach J.T. Curtis' 500th career win.
John Curtis, 28-10
Curtis was our preseason No. 1 in 2A, while Winnfield was No. 8