LHSAA Select Football State Championships Recap
by Jace LeJeune
In the first championship weekend, a lot was expected from the teams to put on good performances. There were first time champions, record breaking performances, and familiar faces in the Dome that made the first championship week very unique. Some teams finished their regular season on top of their classification and other teams walked off the Mercedes-Benz Superdome field defeated. It was a great day that involved a lot of action and it proved not to disappoint even though the games itself were a little bit of a disappointment. Congratulations to the championship winning teams on a spectacular season as well as the teams that lost because those teams have nothing to be ashamed of. Below is a quick recap of the action that happened today and be sure to come back next weekend where we will recap the Non-Select championship games! It should be a very exciting weekend!
Division IV State Championship Game: Southern Lab Kittens (14-1) vs. Ascension Episcopal Blue Gators (14-1)
Final Score: 36-9 Southern Lab
Recap: The early day matchup to kick things off featured the Southern Lab Kittens and the Ascension Episcopal Blue Gators. The Gators came into the game looking for an undefeated season and a state championship while the Kittens were looking for a repeat from last year when they defeated St. Mary’s in the Superdome. The game was sloppy early in the football game as the Blue Gators suffered a safety, but the Kittens were sloppy as well turning the ball over three times and having big time blunders in the kicking game. The difference was that Southern Lab had some big plays in the running game which really broke the game open while the Blue Gators really struggled to move the ball on a very athletic Southern Lab defense. The Southern Lab Kittens led by Marcus Randall won their second straight state championship and proved that they will be here for a while. The Ascension Episcopal Gators did not have their best game but had their best season in school history and that is something to be proud of.
Play of the Game: There were a lot of big time runs in the game but the play or plays that stood out the most was right before the end of the first half. Southern Lab had some special teams problems and had a very bad punt that set the Blue Gators with tremendous field position inside the ten yard line with under a minute left to go in the first half. If the Blue Gators scored a touchdown, it would only be a one possession game, but the Gators could not punch it in the endzone and the Kittens led by Alabama commit LB Chris Allen stopped the Gators. The Kittens did not give any momentum to the Blue Gators coming into halftime. As a result, the Kittens blew the game wide open in the second half.
Southern Lab Player of the Game: The player of the game for the Southern Lab Kittens was running back Tyrion Davis. On his first three carries, he already had almost 100 yards rushing and two of them went for touchdowns. He had a 52 yard rushing touchdown as well as a 57 yard touchdown. He finished the game with 244 yards rushing and three touchdowns on only eight carries.
Ascension Episcopal Player of the Game: For the Blue Gators, it was LB Andre Roth who made big time plays all over the field on special teams and on defense. He finished with 3 1/2 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a blocked punt.
Division III State Championship Game: Riverside Academy Rebels (14-1) vs. St. Charles Catholic Comets (12-3)
Final Score: 47-20 Riverside Academy
Recap: The second game of the day featured two teams that were in the same district in District 9-2A. In an earlier regular season matchup between the two teams, the Rebels defeated the Comets 35-14 in a game that decided the district championship. Now, the St. Charles Catholic Comets led by Frank Monica were trying to seek revenge while ,at the same time, capture the state championship. The Riverside Academy Rebels led by Bill Stubbs were trying to end a great season with a state championship. Last year, the Rebels made the state championship game, but lost to Notre Dame 13-3. The Comets started off with the football and were driving down the field. St. Charles Catholic had the football for most of the first quarter and scored a touchdown, but the score was tied at seven due to a defensive touchdown by the Rebels. Riverside Academy scored every way possible. They scored five times on offense, once on defense, and a backbreaking punt return by Garland Robertson with 23 seconds left to go in the first half. However, the Comets never quit and made it a three possession game after being down by 27 points at halftime, but the Comets put themselves into a deep enough hole and didn’t pull the comeback. The Riverside Rebels won their first ever state championship in school history, and it was the fourth for Stubbs who also won three other state championships at Salmen High School. For the Comets, it was a great storybook season and made a great run at the playoffs including an upset victory over Notre Dame the week before, but nothing just seemed to go right for the Comets this time around.
Play of the Game: The play of the game happened to be on the first drive of the football game. St. Charles Catholic QB Lloyd Nash and the offense were moving down the field and Riverside defense was getting tired. It looked like that the Comets were going to take a 7-0 lead, but it turned out to be a two touchdown swing as Nash tried to keep it on a zone read play and Riverside LB Trey Catoire took the ball away from Nash and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown to give the Rebels the early lead and the momentum that would carry them for the rest of the game.
Riverside Academy Player of the Game: Even though QB Jordan Loving won the MVP for Riverside and it was well deserved, other candidates like WR Avonti Cannon who had two touchdown catches and Catoire also had to receive consideration. My pick for the player of the game was LB Trey Catiore. Not only did he make the play of the game with the 87 yard fumble return for a touchdown, he also had a big time hit on Nash that pumped the Rebel sideline up. He also was active on making plays from sideline to sideline. Catiore played the whole game and was the juice that the Rebels needed that helped them prevail in this game.
St. Charles Catholic Player of the Game: QB Lloyd Nash had an impressive individual effort himself with a couple of touchdowns and some outstanding runs. He also played a lot on defense and was also the kickoff returner for the Comets. He is only a junior and is expected to be one of the Comets’ best returning players for next season.
Division II State Championship Game: St. Thomas More Cougars (10-3) vs. Parkview Baptist Eagles (9-5)
Final Score: 54-29 St. Thomas More Cougars
Recap: In a state championship rematch from last year, the Parkview Baptist Eagles led by Jay Mayet were looking for a repeat at a state championship while the St. Thomas More Cougars led by Jim Hightower were looking for their first ever state championship in the school’s history. The game could not start any better for the Cougars. On the first two drives, the Cougars marched right down the field and scored touchdowns to make it a 14-0 lead for the Cougars, but championship quality teams like the Eagles came right back to make it a one score game at 14-8. It was a very high scoring game as both offenses were moving the ball, but it was the St. Thomas More Cougars that put on an offensive show. The Cougars piled over 540 yards of offense and 504 points. Also keep in mind, that this was not just your average ordinary team. This performance was against a team like Parkview Baptist that is known for being as discipline as any team in the state. The Eagles made some big plays too, but it was the Cougars’ high passing attack that stole the show. Finally, after 30 years, the St. Thomas More Cougars finally won their first state championship under Hightower. The Cougars were always state title contenders and were known for making it far in the playoffs, but never sealing the deal in the Superdome. That all changed tonight as the Cougars finally got it done. For the Eagles, it was a a disappointing end to a crazy season. The Eagles, at one point, started the season at 0-3, but they never gave up and kept fighting. That is what Parkview Baptist does best, and we all know that they will be back for another run next year.
Play of the game: In the fourth quarter, Parkview closed the gap to a 11 point game with over 11 minutes left to play, but quarterback Nate Cox and the Cougars responded with a 53 yard touchdown pass to Alex Hannie that put the game out of reach.
St. Thomas More Player of the Game: There were many great offensive performers like Hannie and Griffin Hebert who torched the Parkview Baptist secondary and made one play after another, but the real star of the show was Nate Cox. The 6-8 quarterback threw for a state championship record 455 passing yards and six touchdowns. Cox was almost flawless as he got the ball out of his hands quickly and accurately. He also distributed the ball out to different wide receivers. Cox was sharp, accurate, quick, and displayed all the intangibles that you want in a quarterback that is playing in a state championship game. His best game of his career came on the biggest stage and truly showed that he was the star of the night.
Parkview Baptist Player of the Game: RB Connor Joffrion had the most impressive performance out of any losing team that I had seen tonight. He scored all of Parkview Baptist’ touchdowns and over 160 all-purpose yards. He is also a junior and still has another year to play for the Eagles so watch out for this young man in 2017.
Division I State Championship Game: Scotlandville Hornets (12-1) vs. Evangel Christian Eagles (12-2)
Final Score: 38-6 Evangel Christian
Recap: In the final game of the night, the Evangel Christian Eagles took on the Scotlandville Hornets for the Division I state championship. The Hornets led by LeVanta Davis were looking for their first state championship in school history. They were playing a team that is very familiar playing in the Superdome in the Evangel Christian Eagles that are led by Byron Dawson. Early on in the game, Scotlandville star quarterback Levi Lewis showed that he was only human and threw two interceptions. He also threw another interception that didn’t count. While the Scotlandville offense was struggling, the Evangel Christian offense got on a roll thanks to the two best friends for the Eagles in QB Connor Curry and TE Tanner Ash. The deadly combination combined for three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the fierce defense shut down the highly potent Scotlandville offense to only six points. Coming into the game, Lewis was not sacked all season long. He was sacked nine times by the Eagles, which also had twenty tackles for loss in the game. It was a dominating performance by the Eagles who clinched their 14th state championship, which is third all time behind John Curtis and Haynesville. For the Scotlandville Hornets, it was a magical season and could be a sign for great things to come in the future.
Play of the Game: In the second half, the score was only 14-0 for Evangel and even though the Hornets were struggling, the team had the talent to come back in one play. Right when the third quarter started, Curry threw a 60 yard touchdown to his pal Ash that really broke the game open for the Eagles.
Evangel Christian Player of the Game: Even though Curry was named the MVP for Evangel Christian, Tanner Ash should receive just as much credit. He made some big plays for the Eagles and really helped his quarterback out by extending his routes when his quarterback was scrambling. He only had three receptions but all three of them went for touchdowns. He was reliable and the big play maker for the offense.
Scotlandville Player of the Game: There was not a lot of things that went right for the Hornets, but the MVP would be Lewis. What a career for the ULL committ, but tonight was not his night. He gets my nod on the player of the game because he kept fighting and competing and looked poised even though nothing was going right for the offense. He finishes off his fantastic Hornet career with 232 yards passing and two interceptions.