LHSAA Non-Select Football State Championships Recap
by Jace LeJeune
What a great weekend if you are a Louisiana High School football fan. Five games would decide who would win the state championships from 1A to 5A. Unlike last weekend with the select state championships, this weekend provided great games that came down to the last possession. Ten great teams will play with only five teams coming home with a state championship trophy. There were great matchups between undefeated teams, major upsets. big time performances from big time players, and made this state championship weekend memorable for a lot of players, coaches, and fans. Check out today’s recap of a great weekend in Louisiana High School football.
Class 1A State Championship Game: Haynesville Golden Tornadoes (13-1) vs. Logansport Tigers (14-0)
Final Score: 34-28 Logansport
Recap: It was the matchup that was meant to be when the Class 1A football brackets came out as the number one seed and undefeated Haynesville Golden Tornadoes went up against the number two seed and undefeated Logansport Tigers. Unsurprisingly, The Golden Tornadoes made their annual return to the Superdome for the 26th time and are looking for their 19 state championship, which would only trail the John Curtis Patriots as the most prestigious program in Louisiana High School football in terms of state championships. For the Tigers, they are trying to win their first state championship since 1995 when a particular sophomore was the starting quarterback for the game. This quarterback is now the head coach for the Tigers in Kevin Magee. Early on, it was evident that the Tigers were the new team making an appearance in the Superdome. The Golden Tornadoes drove 73 yards on thirteen plays and was capped off with a Treyon Hunter touchdown run to give them the early 7-0 lead. Hunter struck again with a 62 yard punt return for a touchdown to extend their lead 14-0. The Tigers, however, rebounded and scored before halftime to make it 14-6. The third quarter started out as a nightmare as it started out with promise. The Tigers were driving to tie the game when all of a sudden, Dayton West‘s pass was batted down and what everybody thought was an incomplete pass turned out to be a fumble recovered for a touchdown 93 yards by Haynesville Senior OLB Kelsey Smith for a touchdown to make it a 14 point swing and extend their lead to 22-6. If things couldn’t get worse for the Tigers, they fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and the Golden Tornadoes recovered it to give them the ball back. Senior Letreveon McKeever runs for a 31 yard touchdown two plays later to extend their lead 28-6. This was the point in the game where everybody expected Haynesville to run away with the game and for the Tigers to give up after a series of plays that didn’t go their way, but the Tigers kept on fighting. On the following drive, the Tigers pound it in the endzone this time with a touchdown run to make it a two possession game. The Tigers began to click on both sides of the football. With a balanced attack, they scored a touchdown on every possession from that point on. They would go on to score 28 unanswered points in over a quarter and a half to pull off the victory 34-28. It was a dramatic win by Coach Magee and the Tigers as they won their first state championship since 1995 and doing it in dramatic fashion. For Coach David Franklin and the Haynesville Golden Tornadoes, it was a tough loss especially blowing a 22 point lead but the Tornadoes will definitely back for another shot next year.
Play of the Game: After tying the game at 28, the Logansport Tigers defense held the Golden Tornadoes offense. With under a minute left, the Tigers moved the ball down the field and QB Dalton Shaw threw a quick screen pass to WR Joe Caraway for a 14 yard touchdown with 24 seconds left in the game to give the Tigers their first lead of the game and for good as the Tigers would later hold on to win.
Logansport Player of the Game: The player of the game for the Tigers was Senior Tailback and Free Safety Debell Crawford, who was a crucial part of the Logansport offense as he jumpstarted the offense in the third quarter with his playmaking ability. In the game, Crawford accounted for three touchdowns (two on the ground and one receiving).
Haynesville Player of the Game: In a losing effort, Treyon Hunter accounted for two of the team’s four touchdowns including a 62 yard punt return that gave the team a 14-0 lead.
Class 2A State Championship Game: Sterlington Panthers (13-2) vs. Madison Prep Chargers (14-1)
Final Score: 28-27 Sterlington
Recap: The Madison Prep Chargers led by Head Coach Michael Roach are in the Superdome only four years after the football team began to play football. As for the Sterlington Panthers led by Head Coach Jason Thompson, they are also looking for their first state championship in the program’s history. The Chargers started off lighting fast as they drove right down the field for a 14 play drive that resulted in a Troy James touchdown. After a Panthers three and out, the Chargers got the football back and looked like they were on their way for a 14-0 lead but a holding penalty brought a touchdown pass from Senior QB Edwin Kleinpeter to Senior WR Brian Savoie back. The Panthers were playing keep away from the Chargers as the Panthers dominated the time of possession and didn’t hurt themselves. For the Chargers, they turned the ball over three times overall and couldn’t stop the Panthers’ veer offense that totaled over 200 yards rushing and most importantly, put the explosive Madison Prep offense off the field. The Panthers took a 28-21 lead in the fourth quarter with almost 7 minutes left in the game. The Chargers took their time on offense and drove down the field taking six minutes off the clock. As the Chargers were driving down the field, they called their last and final timeout with 2nd and goal and just over a minute left in the game. Madison Prep scored a touchdown with 44 seconds with a Tyrese Walker four yard run and the Chargers were an extra point from tying the game up. The question is do you go for the extra point and play for overtime or do you go for two and the win.
Play of the Game: After the touchdown, Michael Roach was discussing what he should do on this play, but remember Coach Roach called his final timeout a couple of plays ago and couldn’t burn another one so the Chargers went on the field to go for two with the play clock running down. They decided to give to their 250 pound hammer Troy James the football, but the tough Sterlington defense stopped him from getting in the end zone for the two point conversion. The Chargers tried the onside kick and the Panthers recovered it sealing their first state championship. Even though, the Chargers gambles on the conversion and lost, there is no doubt that this is a football program on the rise since it is only their fourth year since the team’s inception. For the Panthers, it was a great team effort against a team that is loaded with D-I athletes in Madison Prep, but it was teamwork and great discipline football by the Panthers that got the job done.
Sterlington Player of the Game: Even though it was QB Carson Clowers who won the MVP award with his three touchdowns, I would give the award to fullback Tyler Muse who was the bell cow for the offense and touched the ball over 15 times in the first half. The veer attack by Sterlington worked as the offensive line shot off the ball and gave penetration to a much bigger defensive front lead by DE Bryan Jones, who is getting offers from a lot of SEC teams including Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Muse would be able to get four to five yards on every play and made the entire defense defend the middle which gave Sterlington some success on the outside when they wanted to run the option. Muse was the central focus for Sterlington and could have been the main success on why Sterlington was able to move the ball on the athletic Madison Prep defense.
Madison Prep Player of the Game: In a losing effort, Madison Prep running back Tyrese Walker put up a show. As one of the talented running backs for the Chargers, he had over 220 yards rushing with three rushing touchdowns. Time and time again, Walker showed his playmaking ability to break open in the open field and break tackles. Walker is not the biggest guy on the field but he is definitely tough and runs hard when he has the football in his hands and Madison Prep fans should be happy as he still has one more year left next year.
Class 3A State Championship Game: Lutcher Bulldogs (13-2) vs. Amite Warriors (11-4)
Final Score: 40-36 Lutcher
Recap: What could have been last year’ s state championship matchup when Amite was disqualified after a quarterfinal win against Bogalusa for a fight that happened after the game is actually happening this year. The Lutcher Bulldogs are looking for their second straight championship and their first under new head coach Dwain Jenkins, who lost to Lutcher last year in the state championship as St. James’ head football coach. Meanwhile, the Amite Warriors led by Zephaniah Powell are looking for their fifth state championship. Two of the best offenses in the state faced off against each other, and it didn’t disappoint. As expected, both offenses traded back touchdowns in the first quarter. Amite QB Elijah Walker, who is a Louisiana Tech commit, threw a 24 yard touchdown to Cameron Henderson on fourth down to give the Warriors the lead. It turns out that the Lutcher Bulldogs also have a great quarterback in LSU commit Jontre Kirklin and he responded to Walker’s touchdown pass by going down the field and throwing a touchdown to WR Gregory Clayton for a 12 yard touchdown to tie the game once again at 14, but the tie did not last long as the ensuing kickoff, the Bulldogs decided to kick it off to Amite playmaker Devonta Smith, who is one of the best wide receivers in the state, and he took it 93 yards for a touchdown. Once again on the following drive, Kirklin threw another touchdown this time on fourth down to WR Al’Dontre Davis to cut the Warriors’ lead to two at 22-20. In the second half, Lutcher scored on their first two drives to take their biggest lead of the game at 11. However, the Warriors didn’t quit and scored on the following drive. Lutcher would then score another touchdown. Sooner or later, one of the defenses had to make a play and that was what the Lutcher defense did stopping the Warriors on fourth and goal with seven minutes left to play in the game. The Warriors also got a stop and got the ball back to their offense. The Warriors scored a touchdown on a Walker touchdown pass to a leaping Devonta Smith for a touchdown. They also got the two point conversion to make it 40-36, but the onside kick failed and the Bulldogs held on to a wild 40-36 win to clinch their eighth state championship and the first for first year Lutcher Head Coach Dwain Jenkins.
Play of the Game: The Bulldogs faced third down and six in the third quarter after the Warriors scored a touchdown to cut the Bulldogs lead to five points. If the Warriors can get a stop, they would give the ball back to their explosive offense and have the momentum. On this play, Kirklin does what he does best and that is improvise to find time to find one of his athletic wide receivers. He rolled to his right and then rolled to his left, but at the same time, Kirklin was keeping his eyes on the field and threw it up in the air for another star Lutcher receiver Tariq Belvin to go under the ball and catch right in front of Amite defenders. Belvin picked up a block and ran 73 yards for the touchdown. That was a huge play for the Bulldogs to get the momentum back and to stay one step ahead of the Warriors offense which would make the difference.
Lutcher Player of the Game: Big time players have to step up and make big plays and that is what Lutcher QB Jontre Kirklin did in his final game of his great Lutcher career. Kirklin made some plays with his feet and his arm with almost 400 yards and four total touchdowns to help lead the Bulldogs to their first repeat championship in the school’s program history.
Amite Player of the Game: Another star player in Amite WR Devonta Smith had his final game in the Superdome, but it ended in disappointment as the Warriors would lose the state championship game. The star wide receiver had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown on eight catches. He also added another touchdown on a 93 yard kickoff return and had an interception on defense. Elijah Walker also had a great game in his last game of his high school career accounting for 341 total yards and four total touchdowns. Even though their last games ended in disappointment, both Walker and Smith will be talked about as two of the greatest players in their storied program’s history.
Class 4A State Championship Game: Edna Karr Cougars (14-0) vs. Neville Tigers (13-1)
Final Score: 34-21 Edna Karr
Recap: The Class 4A State Championship Game was arguably the most highly anticipated state championship game of the weekend between two undefeated powerhouses in the classification in Edna Karr and Neville High School. Coming into the game, both teams were arguably the two best teams in the entire state regardless of classification. The Neville Tigers led by Mickey McCarty were looking for their second straight state championship and their 14th in their program’s rich history. Meanwhile, the Edna Karr Cougars have built themselves into one of the best football programs in the state over their last decade with six state championship appearances over the last seven years. Of those six, they faced the Tigers three times losing twice including last year’s defeat to Neville 45-26. Edna Karr Head Coach Brice Brown and the Cougars remembered last year’s loss and are trying to get revenge on the Tigers this year. On the first drive, the Edna Karr offense led by QB and Arkansas State commit Aldon Clark marched down the field against a great Neville defense that has dominated all season long. The run game was working well for the Cougars as every play on the drive was a run until Clark threw a screen to Romad Jefferson for a 30 yard touchdown to give the Cougars a 6-0 lead after a blocked extra point. Neville would get the ball after a bad punt a couple of drives later and Neville dual threat quarterback Jaiden Cole ran for a 12 yard touchdown to give the Tigers a lead at 7-6. In the second quarter, Clark throws another touchdown pass to WR Racey McMath who was wide open in the endzone and the Cougars regained the lead 13-7. The first half was about the Edna Karr defense as they were able to shutdown the running game for Neville and didn’t give up any big plays from Cole. Clark would get the ball back and once again drive down the field against Neville. Clark would later throw a quick screen to the explosive McMath and would later break two tackles on his way to a 30 yard touchdown to extend the Cougars’ lead to 13 at 20-7. That would be the halftime score. Neville, however, did get the ball in the second half, and responded after the first half was dominated by Edna Karr. Cole throws a 27 yard touchdown to Kenneth Johnson to cut the lead to 6. After Clark throws an interception to Kenderick Marbles, the Tigers now get the momentum and responded with another touchdown to give the Tigers the lead at 21-20, but that was going to be pretty much it for the Tigers as the Cougars would score two more touchdowns from running back Ronnie Jackson while the Neville offense was stagnant in the fourth and the Cougars would hold on to win it 34-20. The Cougars finished their undefeated season with revenge on Neville from last year and proved to be one of, if not the best, prep football team in the state.
Play of the Game: The play of the game occurred not from the Edna Karr offense, but their defense as they held Neville’s offense out of the end zone on four straight plays to seal the deal for the Cougars.
Edna Karr Player of the Game: The entire Edna Karr defense had a great game holding Jaiden Cole and the offense to only 21 points and none in the fourth quarter. Running back duo Santee Marshall and Ronnie Jackson had great second halves to help pull away from Neville and Racey McMath accounted for two touchdowns, but the MVP had to be Aldon Clark. Clark proved to be one of the best quarterbacks in the state with his performance against a great Neville secondary that is full of great D-I players. He accounted for almost 300 yards and three first half touchdowns to help the Cougars pull off the victory.
Neville Player of the Game: It was not the best game for senior QB Jaiden Cole and was not the way that he wanted to end his career but he kept the Neville offense in the game with nobody else really making an impact on offense as he accounted for all three touchdowns for the Tigers.
Class 5A State Championship Game: Landry Walker Charging Buccaneers (13-2) vs. West Monroe Rebels (12-2-1)
Recap: The night cap featured another New Orleans football program versus another Monroe football program in the Class 5A state championship game. The West Monroe Rebels are looking for their ninth state championship win and their first since 2011 when Don Shows was the head coach. For the first time, Jerry Arledge is making an appearance as West Monroe’s coach in the Superdome. For the Landry Walker Charging Buccaneers, they are making their first state championship appearance since L.B. Landry and O.P. Walker combined to make Landry Walker. The Rebels started the game strong stopping the Buccaneers on fourth down and then, scoring a touchdown from West Monroe do-it-all player Slade Bolden to give the Rebels a 7-0 lead. Then, Landry Walker QB and Mississippi State commit Keytaon Thompson started to get on a roll throwing a touchdown to a leaping Devonta Jason for a 43 yard touchdown. On the following drive, Thompson threw another touchdown to Lamont Berzat for a 27 yards to give the Charging Buccaneers their first lead of the football game. Meanwhile for the Rebels, their two biggest playmakers Trey Coleman and Slade Bolden were both banged up with injury, and the team never really recovered. The Charging Buccaneers’ offense was too much to handle for the West Monroe defense and they went on to win by the lopsided score of 50-21.
Play of the Game: The play of the game happened right before halftime when Coach Emmanuel Powell decided to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal with six seconds before halftime. Thompson scrambled a little bit before throwing a touchdown to Jason with no seconds left on the clock. If the pass was incomplete, there would have been some momentum for the Rebels only being down by a touchdown but the touchdown pass to Jason extended the lead to 14 for the Buccaneers and from that point on, they never looked back.
Landry Walker Player of the Game: Obviously, the player of the game had to be Keytaon Thompson. In his final game playing football for the team, he capped off his career in style by accounting for six touchdowns (five through the air and one on the ground) and over 450 yards of offense.
West Monroe Player of the Game: The game was not something that Rebel fans want to remember but there was a bright spot. Playmakers Trey Coleman and Slade Bolden went down with an injury in the first half and the team had to turn to Taylor Young for their offense and he showed up scoring a touchdown and making some plays for the offense.