Edna Karr looks to build on budding football legacy
It is quite a legacy.
Under Don Wattigny, Edna Karr won a Class 3A state championship in 1993. Under Jabbar Juluke, the Cougars won the 4A title in 2012.
In 2016, Brice Brown etched his name in the record books, guiding Karr to the 4A state championship in just his second year on the job.
The 2004 Karr graduate led Karr to a perfect 15-0 season, capping it off with a solid 34-21 victory over previously unbeaten and two-time defending state champion Neville in the title game.
How good has Karr been?
The Cougars have played in the 4A state championship game in six of the last seven years. There is reason to believe that it could become seven times in eight years.
“You really don’t have the chance to look back to see how successful you have been, to appreciate what has been accomplished when you are still in it,” Brown said. “You just have to move forward daily. I wish I could. There will be a time to do so. I grew up watching the initial success and became part of it. We understand it and embrace the legacy.”
Despite losing several key players, including quarterback Aldon Clark, wide receivers Racey McMath and Daijen Dixon, defensive ends Tyler Casby and Demmonde Harris and linebacker Darnell Bridges, the Cougars are still quite good in 2017.
“We lost some outstanding players,” Brown said. “They did everything we asked them to do and did so in outstanding fashion. We really like the guys we have now. It is a mixture of experience and new players. It is a new wave, a new generation of kids with a new style of play but they are accustomed to the success we have had. It will be fun to watch.”
Defensively, cornerback Quindell Johnson (6-0, 185) is a Memphis commitment, along with senior tackle Titus Jones (6-3, 265). Defensive end Ronell Burbank (6-3, 240) is committed to McNeese. Junior corner Devin Bush (6-0, 184) has multiple SEC offers. New starting quarterback Skylar Perry is committed to Trinity. Wide receiver Anthony Spurlock (6-1, 165) is committed to Oregon State.
“The defense is the strength of our team going into the season,” Brown said. “We have talent and experience on that side. That is a good thing while our offense finds its way to success. We feel good about the defensive side of the football.”
The big question on offense is how Perry will fill the large shoes of Clark.
“Skylar Perry has ability and he has a good receiving group returning,” Brown said. “He has been in the system for four years now. He is big and has a strong arm. The sky is the limit for Skylar. He has all the tools. The only thing he is lacking is game experience. He will only get better.”
Others returning on offense include junior Khalfani Simmons (5-11, 175), senior guards Tyree Jones (5-11, 275) and Delano Smothers (5-10, 285) and center Lamar Johns (5-10, 255).
Defensively, senior tackle Terrance Casey-Charles 6-2, 250) returns, along with junior tackle Austin Kent (5-11, 275), senior linebacker Sheldon Celestine (6-1, 220) and junior corner Chaz Bates (5-8, 150).
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how our young linebacker group matures,” Brown said. “We feel good about our defensive line and secondary. The middle piece is the most intriguing and very important. We will see how that progresses.”
The schedule starts with a bang with three very difficult, challenging games.
The Cougars open on the road at a very good St. Paul’s squad at Hunter Stadium on Sept. 1 before a showdown with rival and defending Class 5A state champion Landry-Walker at Behrman Stadium on Sept. 8. Then comes another talented opponent in Division II De La Salle on the road.
“I have always seen and learned with Coach Juluke that you play the best teams possible to get you better,” Brown. “You want to stay healthy and execute on a weekly basis. Those three teams are state championship caliber. We will know what kind of team we have after those first three games. It helps to play good teams with different styles as well. Playing on the road makes you tougher as well.”
Week four finds the Cougars battling Carver before a game with Lake Area New Tech in week five.
Then come the big games in district play.
The Cougars battle McDonogh 35 on Oct. 5 before hosting Belle Chasse and facing McMain and Helen Cox. The final game of the season has Karr taking on Warren Easton on Nov. 2.
“I expect our league to be one of the most competitive in the state again,” Brown said. “Warren Easton is returning virtually everyone from a semifinal team. We could easily get knocked off in league play if we don’t play well and maintain our intensity. Hopefully, we can make a run for the playoffs. Facing Easton and a good team like McDonogh 35 will make us better down the road. Again, road games are tougher.”
Given the track record of the Cougars, the fine coaching and outstanding talent on hand, look for Karr to make another serious run at a Class 4A state title in 2017.
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