1. JOHN CURTIS CHRISTIAN (2011 record: 14-0) The Patriots are ranked No. 23 in the nation this week after debuting at No. 25. It's hard to imagine another team in the country with as much depth - or the strength numbers - of head coach J.T. Curtis Jr.'s squad that goes 100-plus deep on the roster.
All of the top RBs return, including seniors Sherman Badie and Tevin Horton, juniors George Moreira and Raekwon James, and sophomore Myles Washington. SS Brandon Porter (6-0, 200), a San Diego State commit, also could get carries. Badie averaged 14.24 yards per carry last fall. Horton has a ULM offer. WR Malachi Dupre (6-4, 185, JR) has offers from LSU, Florida State, Ole Miss, Tulane and more.
Two experienced quarterbacks, senior Patrick Morton and sophomore Abby Touzet, will be at the controls of the Patriots' triple option veer offense. OL Brandon Godfrey (6-4, 280, SR) is committed to Tulane. OL Anthony Taylor (6-7, 335, SR) was offered by McNeese St. At least four Patriots (Horton, Taylor, OLB/DE Fred Beauford and MLB Eric Thomas) bench press a minimum of 425 pounds.
James, a 175-pounder who also started on the state champion hoops team, benches more than twice his body weight (365 lbs.). Senior LB Duke Riley (6-1, 210, 4.49 speed) has offers from Ole Miss, TCU, Colorado, Tulane and more. Badie (5-11 1/2, 200) ran a 4.30 at LSU's July camp. Florida, Mississippi State, Arizona State and Tulane have all extended offers to sophomore safety Hunter Dale.
Senior CB Richard Allen, a Tulane commit, ran an electronic 4.38 at the New Orleans Under Armour Combine. Senior DL Cyle Cortez (6-2, 260) recorded eight sacks last year. Junior CB Terrence Alexander (Ole Miss, Tulane offers) had an interception with a long return in last week's 42-0 rout of Covington.
LB Kenny Young (6-2, 220, JR) can play inside or outside. He's an impressive physical specimen. Junior DB Mattrell McGraw (6-0, 180) is equally effective at corner or safety. Junior CB Prine Lewis (pictured below), who goes by "P.J.," benches 335 pounds. Don't overlook senior CB Jacolby Cooper, the state champ in the 400 meters.
Keep an eye on 6-6 frosh OL Willie Allen.
Curtis smashed Winnfield in the state finals, 33-3. It was the 24th championship trophy earned by the Patriots, who celebrate 50 years of existence in 2012.
2. UNIVERSITY LAB (2011 record: 12-1) The Cubs should be even better this year thanks to standouts Nicholas Brossette, Tim Williams, Garrett Brumfield and Jarrod Franklin. Brossette had a hand in all four U-High touchdowns last week (28-6 win over 3A Brusly). LSU, Alabama and Florida St. all have offered Brossette (6-0, 205, SO).
Williams is a four-star defensive end who spent time at cross-town Glen Oaks earlier during his career. The 6-4, 270-pound Brumfield, a junior offensive lineman, has offers from LSU, Miami, Florida State and Louisiana Tech.
Senior safety Franklin (four offers) is a "laser," Cubs head coach Chad Mahaffey said. "Last year was his first year playing football. He's 6-0, 193 pounds, and plays free safety for us. He's really physical. Every college coach that has come through during spring evaluation likes him."
Two sons of LSU coaches - Manny Miles and Nik Kragthorpe - are on the roster. U-High dropped a 23-20 decision to Calvary Baptist in the '11 quarters.
He won't play on the varsity this fall, but 2017 prospect Dylan Moses (LSU offer) is waiting in the wings as the Cubs' next elite player. The eighth grader is 6-0 and 205 pounds. He was clocked at 4.46 at LSU's July camp.
3. CALVARY BAPTIST (2011 record: 11-3) The Cavaliers are coming off an appearance in the semis, and the south Shreveport program looks to make the finals for the first time. Senior safety Weston Steelhammer can lay the wood. He racked up a team-high six interceptions in '11. QB Daniel Fitzwater, a transfer from Liberty, Texas, was on fire with three touchdown passes last week vs. 3A Farmerville.
WR Colin Stogner averaged more than 17 yards per catch as a junior. Calvary must cope with losing RB Brandon Wilson (Houston), who gained close to 2,000 yards rushing. The Cavs' head coach is John Bachman, the former Evangel Christian boss.
4. WINNFIELD (2011 record: 14-1) The Tigers will tame most foes with a speedy, aggressive defense paced by end Michael Patterson (LSU commit, pictured below) and DB Jarvis Jackson (five picks). Running back Travis Dorsey was second-team all-district in '11, according to Raymond A. Partsch III of the Alexandria Town Talk.
Quarterback Tolbert Triplett took many of the first-team reps last year before receiver Alonzo Moore moved to signal-caller on a full time basis near playoff time. Key Departures: WR/QB Alonzo Moore (Nebraska), RB Trey Gilbert (1,365 yards rushing), LB Frank Swafford (142 tackles), OL Thomas Little (Northwestern St. )
5. EVANGEL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (2011 record: 8-6) As mentioned in the past, the Eagles never duck an opponent. Head coach Phillip Deas didn't panic last year when Evangel stumbled to a 1-4 start.
Instead, the high-profile south Shreveport school bounced back to prevail in seven of its last nine contests, and reached the semis (lost to John Curtis). The Eagles won state in 2009 and 2010 with victories over Curtis in the finals.
Evangel's losses in '11 were to a salty group: Tulsa Union (went 14-1), Oxford (Miss.) Lafayette (16-0), St. Thomas More (11-2), Ouachita (Cameron Robinson, Cameron Sims. et al.), arch-rival Calvary Baptist and Curtis.
Three-star offensive tackle Josh Thomas (6-7, 325) is committed to Houston. Senior WR Trent Taylor is a Louisiana Tech pledge. Senior LB X'Zavier Preston, nationally-ranked at his position, might have to go the JUCO route.
Preston (60th-ranked MLB) has several offers, including Oregon State, Houston and Memphis. OLB/DE Jammerio Gross has good instincts and offers from McNeese St. and Texas St.
The passing game has a question mark after the graduation of talented wideouts Judah Jones (Kansas State), Hayden Jennings and Trey Taylor. Evangel was the preseason No. 2 last year behind Curtis.
6. LOREAUVILLE (2011 record: 9-3) Head coach Trent Delahoussaye and offensive coordinator Rhett Peltier make up for lack of depth with an outstanding group of skill players, topped by WR/DB Jermaine Antoine (6-0, 195, SR). Last week, Antoine ran for a 43-yard touchdown in his team's 7-6 loss to district rival Catholic-New Iberia in jamboree action.
The Tigers and Panthers hook up again at Loreauville in week eight. Catholic won last year, 28-26. Loreauville reached the second round of the playoffs (lost to Episcopal).
QB Raymond Bonnette, a dual-threat junior, is a returning starter. His younger brother, sophomore WR Rhashid Bonnette (6-0, 180), is the team's primary deep threat.
Antoine plays a variety of positions, including WR, RB, DB and return man. TE Charles Francois and WR John Reed are reliable senior targets. Sophomore safety Tyiren Anthony and freshman OL/DL Lee Paul Castille (6-2, 335) are additional key performers.
7. CATHOLIC-NEW IBERIA (2011 record: 11-2) Panthers of head coach Keith Menard were stellar last year. Led by (then-junior) QB Joe Lissard, Catholic went to the quarters before yielding to Evangel Christian on the road. Lissard is definitely in the conversation when you're talking about the state's best quarterbacks.
Junior WR Gabe Fuselier is a preseason first-team All-Acadiana selection. Junior DB Joe Dworaczyk, younger brother of LSU OL Josh Dworaczyk, might have the most raw talent of any player on the Panthers' roster not named Pellerin.
Linebacker Jared Bullock is the younger brother of Taylor Bullock (current Tulane, former Catholic player).
Once Lissard leaves to play on the next level, sophomore Jason Pellerin (pictured below) will assume the duties under center. For now, Pellerin (6-3, 190) will snag passes at wide receiver. The Panthers were ranked preseason No. 10 last year.
8. MANY (2011 record: 7-4) Head coach Jess Curtis has the Tigers on track. Curtis logged time as a defensive coordinator before becoming Many head coach, and he's also a good offensive schemer. Many's offensive attack varies from year-to-year, depending on the available personnel.
The Tigers move from a balanced offense that saw a lot of footballs sailing through the air to a conservative running style. Offensive linemen Garrett Thomas (6-6, 290, SO), Hunter Dubois and Ivy Jackson should open huge holes. The Tigers have a big non-district showdown with Episcopal in week five. Many was knocked out of the 2011 playoffs in the first round by Homer.
9. CARVER (2011 record: 6-5) Rams reached the first round of the playoffs (lost to Evangel, 61-0). The Desire-area New Orleans program has talent, starting with WR Raheem Falkins, a rangy (6-3, 190) senior Alabama pledge. Falkins is a three-star prospect and the nation's 51st-ranked wideout. His younger brother, junior WR Niguel Falkins, has an Ole Miss offer. Senior Eugene Brazley, also a three-star, is the No. 96 RB in the country. Brazley is an Ole Miss verbal.
Carver raced to an early lead over John Curtis in last year's district matchup. The Patriots trailed Carver by two touchdowns before rallying and taking over the game (final score: 60-20).
10. EPISCOPAL (2011 record: 11-2) Knights seek playmakers to ease the loss of pivotal departures Tylor Harris (Wake Forest), Mike Henry (Nicholls St.), QB Vincent Dellocono and TE Brian Bridgewater (transferred to Scotlandville). There's ammunition remaining on offense in the form of RB Jarrell Rogers. Head coach Travis Bourgeois has done remarkable work in building a winner at the Baton Rouge program. Last year, the Knights were ranked preseason No. 5. Episcopal was eliminated from the quarters by Winnfield, 27-24.
ON THE BUBBLE (in random order)
Holy Savior Menard (Alexandria Catholic school doesn't send many prospects to the next level, but head coach Freddie Hallman has found a niche with the underrated Eagles)
Riverside Academy (Perennial playoff contender excited about new head coach Bill Stubbs)
Welsh (Greyhounds advanced to the second round in 2011, posted 9-3 mark -- 5-0 in district)
Homer (DE Demeatre Casey is dominant against small-school competition)
Kinder (RB Marshall Harmon is a fabulous under the radar prospect)
Pope John Paul II (9-3 second-round playoff team in '11)