Determined John Curtis returns to state title game for first time in three years

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With 26 state championships on the field, the most in Louisiana prep football history, J.T. Curtis has presided over a dominant program at John Curtis Christian.

That said, it has been three years since John Curtis Christian has been to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the state championship football game.

That rare streak is over.

Now, the Patriots will try to end another rare streak as they seek their first state championship in four seasons.

The second-seeded Patriots earned the right to play for the title with a 29-8 victory over third-seed Scotlandville in the Division I state semifinals at The Shrine on Airline Friday night.

Speaking on The Three Tailgaters Show on WGSO, 990 AM Saturday morning, Curtis expressed the joy and relief at being back in the title game.

“You cannot take anything for granted,” Curtis said. “If you do, you have a distinct possibility to be left out. We’ve seen that happen thus far. It comes down to hard work. It’s tremendous. The kids were excited. It doesn’t make a difference whether you go one time or ten times. Your kids are going to be excited. It never gets old. It is the culmination of all the hard work paying off. They were like kids in the candy store after the win over Scotlandville.”

The Curtis defense came up big, holding the Hornets scoreless until late in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots overcame three turnovers and 100 yards in penalties. The Hornets were plagued by penalties, incurring 18 for 205 yards, an alarming total.

Four different players scored touchdowns for Curtis, including Darryan Washington, Malik Wells, Collin Guggenheim and Corey Wren.

Curtis punished Scotlandville on the ground, rushing for 385 yards. The Patriots threw just three passes in the game.

It was all about big plays. Washington ran 34 yards for a score, Wells raced 70 yards for a touchdown and Guggenheim had a 36-yard score.

“Collin certainly has brought us to do some things on the corner that we have not done in the past,” Curtis said. “Losing Marquese Albert early was tough but he comes to every practice and every game. Malik Wells, Darryan Washington and Ernest Jones have done a tremendous job of picking up the slack. It gives all options in our triple option attack.”

Everyone expected a matchup with top-seed Evangel Christian in the state title game in the latest version of the saga between the two Louisiana superpowers.

A funny thing happened on the way to New Orleans.

Fourth-seed Catholic of Baton Rouge shocked Evangel 14-6 in Shreveport, the second time in three years that Catholic upset the Eagles at Rodney Duron Stadium.

“You go to Shreveport and beat them on their home field, you have accomplished a monumental task,” Curtis said. “They have done it twice in three years. You have to give tremendous credit to Catholic. I heard they were a year or two away, that they were young. The Catholic players didn’t believe it. We have tremendous respect for them and their program.”

Catholic went on to upset top-seed Archbishop Rummel 31-28 in the 2015 state championship game so the Bears of Gabe Fertita will be seeking their second state title in three years.

“We’ve had two weeks off in four weeks,” Curtis said. “That is a concern. You worry about consistency and urgency and finding your groove. When you are playing, your assignments are crisp. We will try to get a little better this week with technique and goal line defense while working on our two minute offense. Those are things you can improve upon with time to prepare.”

Curtis will be seeking its first state championship at the highest level of competition allowed, Division I, for select schools.

“We look forward to the challenge,” Curtis said. “We have always played tough competition regardless of the level and we know that Catholic is a tough opponent. We are happy to be back in the title game and we would love these seniors to go out winners.”

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