Road to the Dome: LHSAA Division I Quarterfinal Recap
by Jace LeJeune
Eight teams played in the quarterfinal round of the Division I playoffs and only four of those teams will advance to the next round. For the four teams that lost this week, their season is over, but for the four teams that move on to the next round, those particular teams have one goal. That is to be one of nine teams in the end holding a state championship trophy in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with the Queen smash hit “We Are the Champions” playing in the background. For Louisiana football fans, this is the most wonderful time of the year. It is our version of “March Madness”. This year, we got you covered as for the next couple of weeks. We will go through all of the matchups from 1A all the way to 5A each and every week leading up to the All-State Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic from December 7th-9th. We weren’t able to get in our Division I playoff preview before the games started, but we will give you a quick recap of the games and what actually went on before we give out our third round and semi-final previews later today.
#1 Evangel Christian Academy Eagles (8-1) defeats #9 Archbishop Rummel Raiders (6-5) 14-7.
Game Recap: Without Archbishop Rummel’s star WR JaMarr Chase, who went down with an injury against C.E. Byrd in the previous playoff game, not many people gave the Raiders a fighting chance to compete with the reigning Division I state champions and #1 seed Evangel Christian Academy, but Coach Jay Roth and the Rummel Raiders are still a state championship caliber program and gave everything that the Eagles could handle. Both defenses played great in the football game as there was not a single point scored until the very end of the first half. With about three minutes left to go before the half, the big underdogs took the 7-0 lead when Rummel QB Chandler Fields found WR Cole Young for a nine yard touchdown, but the lead did not last long for the Raiders as the Eagles drove down the field on a nine play 80 yard drive to tie the football game when Evangel Christian QB Blake Shapen threw a touchdown pass to Josh Walker for 30 yards with about 23 seconds left to play before halftime. The Evangel offense gained momentum from their touchdown drive at the end of the first half to take the lead on the team’s first drive of the first half with a Elijah Chapman touchdown run after Evangel drove down the field on a 13 play 69 yard drive. Besides giving up the two long touchdown drives, the Rummel defense played outstanding and did not give up another point the rest of the night. The problem, for the Raiders, was that the Evangel Christian defense, led by LSU commits LB Micah Baskerville and DB Ar’Darius Washington, did the exact same thing shutting down the Rummel offense the rest of the night as well. Evangel had a chance to clinch a victory with a 32 yard field goal attempt to put the Eagles up by ten late in the game, but the field goal was blocked. This gave a chance for Rummel to either tie the football game with a touchdown and an extra point or win the game with a touchdown and a two point conversion. However, the Eagles ended all chances of an upset when Evangel DB Jarrick Bernard knocked down a Fields’ pass that was intended for Jacob Renton down the field to preserve the 14-7 victory. It was a violent effort by Coach Roth and the Raiders, who end their season at 6-5 with a playoff win. Byron Dawson and the Evangel Christian Academy Eagles survive a big upset thanks to the help of their wide receivers Christian Bailiff and Josh Walker, who both continued to make plays on those two touchdown drives as both receivers combined for 14 receptions for 188 yards and a touchdown, as well as the dominant Eagles defense that has been shutting down opponents all season long. The Eagles are now one game away from reaching the Superdome once again. Their next opponent is the team that prevented the Eagles from going to the Dome in 2015 and that is the #4 seed Catholic High (B.R.) Bears.
#2 John Curtis Christian Patriots (10-1) defeats #7 St. Paul’s Wolves (7-5) 35-21.
Game Recap: This was a game that featured two teams that are very familiar with one another in the John Curtis Patriots and the St. Paul’s Wolves. Even though both teams are very familiar with each other, both teams have two very contrasting styles as John Curtis likes to control the clock and get five yards on every play running their famous split back veer offense. The Wolves like to score quickly and spread the ball offensively. What resulted was a high scoring shootout. First, it was John Curtis that was taking control of the football game when RB Darryan Washington scored the game’s first touchdown from ten yards out to give John Curtis a 7-0 lead. Then, the Patriot defense put some points on the scoreboard themselves with a pick six returned by CB Brandon Davis to give John Curtis a 14-0 lead. However, the St. Paul’s Wolves did not falter as QB Jack Mashburn, who was named the starting quarterback recently after playing wide receiver, threw a beautiful pass to WR Nicholas Stanton, who used his 6-4 frame to jump up, grab the football and continue to run for 72 yards to put the Wolves on the board at 14-6 before the end of the first quarter. At the end of the first half, the Wolves added a late field goal from Robby Ferrante to make it a 14-9 game. The Wolves actually had their first lead of the football game at 15-14 when Mashburn threw a 62 yard touchdown pass to Grant Grosch. However, like championship teams do, John Curtis did not waver answering back with a Malik Wells 50 yard touchdown run to give the Patriots a 20-15 lead. Mashburn responded by leading the Wolves down the field and taking it in the end zone himself with a four yard touchdown run to put the Wolves right back on top at 21-20, but that was when the scoring would end for the Wolves as the Patriots scored the final 15 points with two more touchdown runs by Washington and a successful two point conversion coming in a pass from QB Collin Guggenheim to highly recruited TE Glenn Beal. The Patriot defense held up sealing a John Curtis 35-21 victory over the St. Paul’s Wolves. Mashburn had himself a great game throwing for 356 yards and accounting for all of St. Paul’s touchdowns, but it was still too much as Washington ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns to help John Curtis seal the victory in the fourth quarter. For Ken Sears and the St. Paul’s Wolves, they put up a great effort, but the season ends with a 7-5 overall record. For legendary head coach J.T. Curtis and the John Curtis Patriots, they take another step in trying to get the program’s 27th state championship. Their next opponent will be the #3 seed Scotlandville Hornets, who made the Division I state championship game last year.
#3 Scotlandville Hornets (10-1) defeats #6 Brother Martin Crusaders (7-5) 35-33.
Game Recap: This matchup between the Scotlandville Hornets and the Brother Martin Crusaders is a rematch of last year’s Division I semi-final matchup, which resulted in a 18-16 victory for the Hornets to advance to the state championship game. This year’s quarterfinal matchup between both teams did not disappoint as it was probably the most entertaining football game of the entire Division I bracket and maybe even the entire weekend thanks to the effort of highly recruited defensive back Kelvin Joseph, who made an impact on all three phases of the football. The Hornets jumped up to an early 14-0 lead when junior QB Cameron Armstead threw a 15 yard touchdown pass to Joseph, who doesn’t play receiver often, but started in the semi-final game as well as another Armstead touchdown pass. However, this time it was to another big time playmaker in RB Trenton Charles, who outran every Crusader defender to the end zone for 71 yards. However, the Crusaders responded when their QB John Paul Pierce threw deep to a wide open Davon Moore to cut the Hornet lead at seven. In the second quarter, the Crusaders had a chance to put more points on the board, but failed to capitalize on those plays such as an Erick Lassair interception return and a blocked Scotlandville punt, but the Crusaders could not put any points even with the big plays set up by their defense and their special teams. The Hornets got back on the scoreboard late in the first half when Armstead threw one of the best passes of the night when he threw the ball 53 yards to the back of the end zone over two Brother Martin defenders and landing in the arms of Joseph, who caught his second touchdown to make it 21-7. After a last second Crusader field goal, the score at the half was 21-10. In the third quarter, the Crusaders cut the lead to eight with a field goal. Then, Lassair punched the ball in the endzone as well as converting on the two point conversion to tie the football game at 21 a piece. In the fourth quarter, the Crusader offense was backed up in their own end zone and as a result, Scotlandville defenders Jimyon Profit and Devin Meyers tackled Pierce in the end zone for two points to give the Hornets back the lead at 23-21. Then, things got really interesting as it became a back and forth scoring fest in the fourth quarter. It all started after the Hornets seemed to take the lead for good when Armstead found Jalen Womack for his fourth touchdown pass of the game to extend the lead at 29-21, but the extra point was no good to make it a two possession lead. As a result, the Brother Martin Crusaders scored 12 unanswered points in just a couple of seconds as Pierce hit Joseph Parenti for a 13 yard touchdown pass to make it 29-27 after the missed two point conversion. Then, the Crusaders recovered their onside kick with just over a minute remaining in the game giving the Crusaders a chance to win the game. It did not take long for the offense to score as Lassair continued his impressive performance running for his second touchdown from 48 yards out with 59 seconds left to play to give the Crusaders their first lead of the football game at 33-29. It seemed that all was lost for the Scotlandville faithful and that Brother Martin was finally going to the Super Dome, but the Crusaders had to kick the football off still and the guy returning the kickoff for the Hornets is the one and only Kelvin Joseph. The Crusaders gambled and did kick the ball off to Joseph, which proved to be a fatal decision as Joseph returned the kickoff 89 yards to give the Hornets a 35-33 lead with 44 seconds remaining. The Hornets would be able to get the football back and run the clock out to advance to the Division I semi-finals. It was a fantastic game and a great effort by Mark Bonis and the Brother Martin Crusaders, who end their season at 7-5. Erick Lassair and John Paul Pierce had big time games and if it wasn’t for the Kelvin Joseph return, it might be Lassair being set into Brother Martin infamy with the 48 yard touchdown run. However, it was the heroic efforts of Joseph and the big passing night from Armstead that allowed the Hornets to make the plays that the team needed to make in order to win the football game. Next up, Levonta Davis and the Scotlandville Hornets get their biggest challenge of the season as they will face the #2 seed John Curtis Patriots for a chance to get into the Superdome for the second year in a row.
#4 Catholic High B.R. Bears (9-3) defeats #5 St. Augustine Purple Knights (7-4) 7-3.
Game Recap: The quarterfinal matchup between the Catholic High Bears and the St. Augustine Purple Knights was a perfect game to watch if you are a big fan of physical football and great defense. Well, if that was what you wanted, then that is what you got in this classic slug fest. Both teams could not put up any points for most of the first half as both defenses played really well, but there was still some opportunities for either team to break the game open with points. For the Knights, DB Kyle Jackson intercepted Catholic QB Cameron Dartez on the first play of the football game to set the offense up with good field position, but the Knights offense did not capitalize. For the Bears, they drove the ball into opponent territory on multiple occasions, but could not keep those drives going. The biggest play of the entire game happened in the first half as the Bears tried to pull out a trick play with their RB Beau Griffon who attempted a running back pass, but St. Augustine DB Donniel Ward-Magee was not fooled as he intercepted the pass and looked like he was going to return it all the way back for a touchdown, but a great effort was made by Catholic WR Gregory Martin and Griffon to stop Magee short of scoring a touchdown. That tackle would pay huge dividends for the Bears as the defense held the Knights offense out of the end zone. As a result, St. Augustine kicker Kyle Sims made a 31 yard field goal to end the scoreless stalemate to give the Knights a 3-0 lead at the end of the first half. In the third quarter, the Bears had a chance to tie the football game with a field goal attempt, but the kick sailed to the right. The key play, for the Bears, did however come in the form of special teams as Blake Davis‘ 63 yard punt landed inside the Knights’ five yard line. With a three and out, the Knights had to punt the ball back to Catholic with good field position. Finally, the Bears finally scored to take the lead at the start of the fourth quarter when they relied on their power running back Parker Smith, who ran the ball six straight times for 52 yards including a two yard touchdown. The Bears defense shut down the St. Augustine defense for the final eight minutes of the game to clinch a 7-3 victory. Even with the dominant defensive performances on both sides of the football, the biggest tackle of the entire game was Martin and Griffon’s tackle on Jackson that prevented the Knights from scoring a touchdown themselves and instead kicking a field goal. That would prove to be the difference in the game. The Catholic defense and the power running game of Parker Smith helped the Bears advance to the next round. For Al Jones and the St. Augustine Purple Knights, it was a perfectly played game by the defense, but the offense could not find a way to put any points up on their own. They will end their season at 7-4. For Gabe Fertitta and the Catholic High Bears, they will make the trip to Shreveport to take on a very familiar opponent in the #1 seed Evangel Christian Academy Eagles, who the Bears defeated in the 2015 Division I semifinals to advance to the state championship.
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