This has been a magical year at John Curtis Christian School. The Patriots have taken home state championships in football, boys indoor track and field, and boys and girls basketball.
"It's really been good," head coach J.T. Curtis, Jr. said. "The kids are excited. They're excited with their team and the opportunity to compete for a state championship, obviously, and it's kinda a neat deal having both teams - girls and boys - in it (basketball state finals)."
Both the Lady Patriots and Patriots cruised to Class 2A state championships on the hardwood.
It was the first state title for the boys in hoops.
"With basketball, we've been really good and we've been right at that threshold but never have gotten into the state championship since 1982 or 1983," Curtis said.
"It's really been a great experience. We have a great group of kids. They work really hard and are extremely committed to what they do. The coaches have done, obviously, a great job with them. We're just looking forward to the opportunity to compete for a championship and hopefully come home with a big smile on our face."
Curtis did, in fact, come home to New Orleans with collective smiles after the boys basketball team beat district rival Riverside Academy in the 2A finals. In addition, the Lady Patriots thumped Iota in the girls finals.
Turning to the gridiron, the Patriots are heavily-favored to repeat as state champs this fall. The 2012 squad could be the school's stoutest team since Joe McKnight's senior year in 2006.
The '06 version finished near the top of the national rankings. Their resume included a signature win over Hoover, Alabama.
That game was a road win over a Hoover team which was ranked first in the country in one major preseason poll.
"It should be a good team," said a cautiously-optimistic Curtis, looking forward to this fall. "But the bottom line with teams is how they mesh together.
"The unselfishness of the guys that compete, the willingness to continue to strive to move forward...the one thing we know is that you're never going to stay the same. You're going to continue to improve to get better, or you're going to regress.
"Both of those are slow processes. A lot of times you don't realize you're getting better, but you are. And then a lot of times you don't realize you're regressing, but you are.
"So it's important for us to say, 'Yeah, we have a good group coming back' and certainly we have some talented athletes coming back, but they have to mesh themselves together and develop that same spirit, chemistry, camaraderie - whatever word you want to use."
Curtis says last season's team developed that cohesiveness.
"One of the neat things about last year's team was when we lost our starting quarterback (junior Patrick Morton) who was really a leader for us," Curtis said.
"And the freshman (Abby Touzet) went in to play. The team really came together with, 'Hey! We got your back. Let's go out there and play, and let's go have some fun. Let's compete; don't press yourself. We're all going to be in this together.'
"And you can sense that: Offensively, defensively, on special teams...the whole nine yards. When that happens, it really makes a team difficult to beat and special.
"One of the neat things about coaching - and I get this question often - is 'Do you ever get tired of this? Are you getting burned out?'"
The answer is no.
"Every team is so uniquely different, and the challenge of putting that together is what's important," Curtis said with a gleam in his eye.
"It will be a challenge for the coaching staff to try and blend all these guys together. And it will be a challenge for them to make sure they're playing unselfishly and for each other, not just for themselves or to win a state championship."
What does Curtis emphasize?
"Go out and compete every day to be the best they can be," he stated.
What does Curtis think about his team?
"It's a good group," he said. "Obviously, we're looking forward to getting our quarterback back, although Abby Touzet went in and did a nice job. We really feel like Patrick Morton is a guy who gives us another dimension, so it will be good to get him back in the saddle and have him be able to lead us.
"Abby certainly will get some time to play because he's proven that he can do that. Sherman Badie (pictured below) and Tevin Horton - the running backs - are guys who should be big players for us. Duke Riley (LB), Richard Allen (DB) and Brandon Porter (DB/LB): those guys have all played and should be able to step their game up another notch.
"Really, because of the speed they bring to the field, they allow us to be able to compete at a different level. I would anticipate them really giving us an opportunity to really be able to play great defense.
"We have a couple of good young receivers. One coming off the basketball team -- (sophomore) Malachi Dupre -- is a guy we really think is going to have a chance to be a big-time receiver.
"We have some weapons we feel good about, and we have good team speed. You put those two things together and it gives you a chance to be really successful."