West St. John, Kentwood seek return to glory in Class 1A championship game
A pair of superb programs with championship pedigrees collide in the Class 1A state championship game Thursday when top-seed West St. John battles third-seed Kentwood.
Despite their successes on the field, the two powers have never met in a state title game.
Kentwood has won eight state titles but the Kangaroos ended a 17-year drought by winning the Class 1A title in 2015, crushing Haynesville 40-7.
Last week, Kentwood went to second-seeded Oak Grove and won 19-7 in the semifinals.
West St. John has won three state titles, with its most recent title coming in 2004. When known as Second Ward, the school won consecutive state titles in 1971 and 1972. The Rams advanced by ending defending state champion Logansport’s 27-game win streak in a 34-18 victory in the semifinals at Edgard.
“We’re pretty excited about being back in the state championship game,” Walters said. “We feel like we’re overdue. The kids know how to win. Our guys seem to be on a mission. We talk about it a lot.
The two powers met in the regular season in 2015 and 2016 with Kentwood winning both meetings. The Kangaroos prevailed 35-22 in 2015 and 15-0 a year ago as Kentwood shut down West St. John, holding the Rams to 162 total yards.
“We know what they are all about,” Walters said. “They have good size up front and they run very well on both sides of the football. We believe we are better than when we played them last year but I’m sure they feel they are better as well.”
West St. John edged Kentwood 16-14 in the 1A quarterfinals in 2007.
Larenz Morris directs the Kentwood spread attack while junior Larry Carter is a physical running back. Junior wide receiver Trey Palmer is an elite talent, with an LSU offer, while Edward Magee is a top receiver as well.
Junior Niko Roy has been outstanding on both sides of the ball for the Rams. Sophomore D’Andre Gaudia has done a fine job running the offense. Junior Kylan Duhe had a big game in the win over Logansport. Sophomore Trenton Grow is a solid receiver.
Walters has handled the tradition of winning at West St. John well.
“There’s a lot of pressure at West St. John,” Walters said. “They live and breathe football and they expect you to win championships. It is pretty much the only thing in the area. Everything shuts down Friday nights and everyone is in the stadium. It is that important. There are a lot of people that support the program.”
The anticipation in the community is off the charts.
“It’s crazy in Edgard right now,” Walters said. “It’s been that way for the past two or three weeks. It’s always pretty crazy on game day and it will be Thursday. It’s just amazing. It’s a wonderful opportunity. I’m excited for the community and for the kids. These kids grow up watching the greats at West St. John in the past. They all grow up wanting to become that.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…