For maybe the last time with the 2A championship on the line, it's the top-seeded John Curtis Patriots against the #2 Evangel Eagles. WWL's Seth Dunlap and Isidore Newman head coach Nelson Stewart will have it for you at noon on WWL.
For the last six seasons, it's been a given that the 2A title would be decided by one postseason matchup: John Curtis vs. Evangel. It started in the 2007 season, when Evangel made the move from 1A to 2A. The Patriots and Eagles had long been among the best teams Louisiana football had to offer, but for the first time, these two powerhouses were in the same class.
The Patriots of John Curtis landed the first couple of blows in this series, knocking Evangel out of the playoffs in the 2007 semifinal round, 29-10, then again in 2008 when the two met in the Superdome for the 2A title, a game Curtis won 35-14. This was the first in a string of three straight Curtis-Evangel Superdome showdowns, and the Eagles would punch back to even the series, taking their first 2A title in 2009 with an 18-13 win over the Patriots in the championship, ending Curtis's run of four straight 2A titles.
Evangel made it two in a row in 2010 with a 28-14 victory to even the series up at 2-2. But in 2011, as defending champions once more, the Eagles ended the year 5-5, and rather than their customary top two seeding, they found themselves at #5 heading into the postseason. This meant that, for the first time since 2007, Curtis and Evangel would meet before the big game. In the semifinal round last year, Curtis retook the lead in the series with a decisive 38-6 victory. Their 33-3 championship game win over Winnfield gave the John Curtis Patriots their 24th state championship, and a 3-2 series lead over Evangel.
That brings us to 2012, where once again, the Curtis-Evangel matchup takes center stage with everything on the line.
For Coach J.T. Curtis's Patriots, the 2012 season has come easy. Even 5A competition like St. Paul's and East St. John offered little resistance, and the Patriots finished the year 9-0 and obliterated the other teams in District 9 to claim their usual place as District champs. During the regular season, the Patriots scored 47 1/2 points a game on offense, and their defense was even more impressive, holding all but one opponent to a touchdown or less and giving up an average of only 3 1/2 points a game.
So far, the playoffs have proved to be simply a formality for #1 seed John Curtis, who could very well end the season ranked #1 in the nation. There's no need for analysis when the scores read this way: 64-0 over #32 Pope John Paul II, 50-6 over #17 North Webster, 62-10 in a rematch with district rival Riverside, who was seeded 25th, and in the semifinals, 55-0 over #4 Springfield. To sum things up, in the playoffs, Curtis's average margin of victory is nearly 54 points. And now of course, they'll face their only true rival in class 2A, a team that makes its home nearly 350 miles away from the Patriots' home base in River Ridge.
At 8-2, Shreveport's Evangel Christian Academy hasn't been quite as dominant as Curtis, but the Eagles' two losses came at the hand of 5A teams who made deep playoff runs - quarterfinalist Ouachita Parish and the Barbe Buccaneers, who will appear in the 5A championship game later today, and who only beat Evangel by a point, 48-47.
As for the rest of Evangel's season, they had close wins over 4A St. Thomas More and chief district rival Calvary Baptist, but for the most part, the Eagles won handily. Behind the arm of Dakota Duron, one of the state's top quarterbacks, the Eagles scored just over 44 points per game. If there's a chink in the Evangel armor, it's their defense, which gave up 22 1/2 points per game. That total climbed to 25 in the postseason, but #2 seed Evangel still had little trouble in the first three rounds.
In a pair of home games, they took out #31 Capitol 54-16, and #15 Rosepine 41-14 before taking their show on the road to the Crescent City two weeks ahead of schedule, where they routed the Rams of #23 George Washington Carver 62-26.
But in the semifinal round, in the friendly confines of Rodney Duron Field up in Shreveport, the Eagles were given all they could handle by an unintimidated, undefeated University Lab team that, at least on paper, looked like they could give Evangel a game. And indeed, the Cubs from Baton Rouge, making their second trip to Shreveport in as many weeks, nearly pulled off a tremendous upset.
In a back-and-forth game that saw an undaunted U-High come back from an 11 point deficit during a wild second half that saw six lead changes, a 12-yard touchdown pass from Dakota Duron to Trent Taylor finally gave Evangel the lead for good. Taylor closed out the game when he intercepted U-High quarterback Nik Kragthorpe on the final play to seal a 52-45 victory for the Eagles.
And so Coach Phillip Deas has his Evangel Eagles back in New Orleans after a one-year respite and looking for their 14th state title.
Both Curtis and Evangel are making the move up to 3A next year, so this may be the lasting statement in this rivalry where Class 2A is concerned. So who's gonna make it?