Evangel, John Curtis lead the way in CrescentCitySports.com Class 5A preseason football rankings
It should come as no surprise.
Defending Division I state champion Evangel is the top-ranked team in our CrescentCitySports.com statewide rankings for 5A teams entering the 2017 season.
The Eagles closed the 2016 season on a run, winning their final 12 games, including a 38-6 demolition of Scotlandville in the state championship game.
It was the 14th overall state title for Evangel, which returns a huge number of key players in 2017. It is hard to see anyone toppling the Eagles, barring injury, though John Curtis, Rummel, St. Paul’s and Scotlandville certainly can make the case for contending as well.
Here are your top ten 5A teams, along with others to watch:
1) Evangel–With so many key players returning, the Eagles are the obvious choice.
Former Evangel star Byron Dawson captured his first title as head coach and the first for the school since 2010.
Junior running back Tamauge Sloan returns to lead the offense while huge senior wide receiver Christian Baliff is back as well.
The defense is simply fast and terrific. Senior defensive lineman Davin Cotton is an LSU commitment. Junior defensive lineman Elijah Chatman is lightning quick. Senior Micah Baskerville is a star as well and another commit to LSU.
Seniors Ar’darius Washington and Jarrick Bernard were outstanding a year ago and are back to anchor the secondary, along with Patrick Jones. Washington is the third LSU commitment on the Evangel squad.
2) John Curtis–A year ago, Evangel came to Metairie and whipped the Patriots 27-6. Memories are long and the Patriots are long in talent as well. Curtis is looking to end a rare drought of three years without a state title.
Start on offense, where speedy sophomore quarterback Collin Guggenheim returns and provides the running threat that Curtis had lacked in previous years. Senior running back Marquese Albert is one of the fastest players in the state at his position while senior tight end Glenn Beal is huge and talented. Senior running back Darryan Washington is fast as well. Senior wide receiver Tyrone Legette is a very tough cover for anyone.
Defensively, senior linebacker Jay Curtis is simply tough while defensive back Brandon Davis is a very good athlete while Donald Clay and Cade Comeaux bring experience to the deep as well.
3) Landry-Walker–It was a truly amazing 2016 season for Landry-Walker.
The Charging Buccaneers won their first-ever state title, taking the Class 5A championship in remarkable fashion. They scored 50 points or more in every playoff game.
Of course that was with the best player in Louisiana in Keytaon Thompson, who is now at Mississippi State while elusive Tevin Bush is at West Virginia. Junior Da’Quan Dorsey takes over at quarterback and has large shoes to fill.
Fortunately, Landry-Walker still has weapons remaining, including senior Devonta Jason, who caught 15 touchdown passes a year ago. Jason committed early to Kansas. Junior Chad Alexander ads pop to the offense as well.
The Charging Buccaneers will excel up front on offense, with all five starters returning, all of whom has size. They include senior center Anun Bennett, junior guards James Jenkins and Khyron Crump and tackles Calvin Legrone and Lavatus Sims.
The defense returns eight players who started a year ago, including tackles Shamod Sullivan and Josh Smith, another Kansas commit. Linebackers Tyrin Fielder, Ernest Simon and Henry Curtis are back to provide excellence at the second level.
In the secondary, Corione Harris, Curry Benn, Tywan Francis and Jomond Foster played a year ago. Harris is one of the top players in Louisiana. Harris is a Kansas commitment. Michael Rhea will see action as well.
4) West Monroe–The Rebels were humbled by Landry-Walker in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last December. You can be certain that they have not forgotten.
The Rebels are led by senior Slade Bolden, who can throw it and can really run it. Bolden has offers from LSU and Alabama, among others. Senior Jarius Henry is the top receiver while junior Zach Murphy will be counted on in the running game.
Up front, the Rebels have three returning starters, including seniors Ryan Johnson, Hunter Robinson and Jacob Ingram, the best of the lot.
Defensively, linebacker John Baily Gullatt is a tackling machine. Junior defensive end Andrew Gleason is back and the secondary returns two starters, including junior Carson Jones and senior Isiah George.
5) Parkway–The Panthers start a new era under Neil May, coming off of a quarterfinal appearance in Class 5A a year ago.
When you have the top wide receiver in the state, perhaps the best football player in the state, you are in good shape.
That is certainly the case with Terrace Marshall, who is big, fast and athletic and has offers from virtually every top program in the country.
When you have perhaps the best quarterback in the state throwing him the football, you understand how potent the Panthers can be.
Justin Rogers is big and can make all of the throws. He is a TCU commitment.
Defensively, the Panthers have a star in safety Israel Mukuamu, who is committed to Florida State, while Jaylon Hall is another talented member of the secondary.
6) Rummel–Jay Roth has accumulated 213 wins and two state championships with a physical running game and stout defenses.
While the running game will matter and the defense should be fine, look for a real change for Roth and his offensive approach in 2017.
That is due to the skill he has, starting with junior quarterback Chandler Fields, who transferred from Holy Cross. Fields, like Chase Fourcade before him, can throw and run, extending plays. He has an elite wide receiver in senior Ja’Marr Chase, a Florida commitment, while fellow senior receivers Evan Francioni, Jermie Walker and Cole Young are very good.
Senior Casey Manning returns up front while senior running backs Dwan Trufant and Keirell Jackson return, along with sophomore Jaelen Sturgis.
The defensive front is led by returning senior starters Glen Thurmond and Jacob Fury but the best player on the Rummel defense is senior Aaron Brule, who will play like a rover frequently. Seniors Eric Piedy and Caleb Powell return in the secondary.
7) St. Paul’s–I know the skepticism among many scoffers. The Wolves never get it done in the playoffs.
Keep in mind that they lost just one regular season game a year ago and that was to the best team in the state in any class in Class 4A state champion Karr. The only other loss for the Wolves was to eventual Division I state champion Evangel, who was one of the top three teams in the state in any class.
Keep in mind that the loss to Evangel was 27-20. Evangel then went on to handle John Curtis 27-6 and Scotlandville 38-6.
The Wolves have a superb junior quarterback in Johntae McDowell. He passed for 34 touchdowns a year ago. Senior Corey Williamson is a bruising running back. The top receiver is Grant Grosh while Jack Mashburn brings size to the position.
The defensive line is led by Lain Scobel and Noah Seiden. Senior Taylor Lacoste is the top linebacker while in the secondary, the Wolves return experience in Jack Bonaldi, Robert Buquoi and Wayne Galloway.
This is good team whose time may be coming to become the elite team that it has never been.
8) Scotlandville–It was a banner year for the Hornets in 2016 as they reached the Division I state championship game. As a contender for state honors, they are not going anywhere.
The Hornets lost some important starters, including Levi Lewis, who was a terrific dual threat quarterback.
Trenton Charles is a small but explosive running back who was excellent in 2015. Senior Vernon Charles was the leading receiver a year ago and he is back to provide outstanding skill while sophomore Jontrail Taylor will be good on the outside as well. Senior Brian Litt is solid as well.
Defensive back Kelvin Joseph is an LSU commitment and one of the top three players in the state. Junior Jimyon Profit returns at linebacker. Up front, massive junior William Myles returns as an immovable force.
9) Destrehan–When Steve Robicheaux is your head coach, you have a real shot at big success. When you have a top-flight running back and a good quarterback returning, your chances improve even more.
Such is the case for the Wildcats, who have a special junior running back in John Emery and a very good junior quarterback in Harold Blood. Add another very talented junior in wide receiver Quinton Torbor and you can understand the excitement about the Destrehan offense. Senior C.B. Anderson is a fine wide receiver as well.
Defensively, senior defensive back Macon Clark is the best player and he has a very good running mate in junior Champ Craven. Senior nose guard Jabriel Fields is quite good as well while senior linebacker Rob Hall is very solid.
10) John Ehret–The Patriots may be higher but there is some uncertainty with the program as fall practice begins. Ehret reached the quarterfinals in 2016, falling to Destrehan.
Ehret welcomes back very talented wide receiver Jamaal Houston, who was injured early last season. Houston is an early commitment to Colorado State. Sophomore Brandon James and junior Reshawn Jones provide solid depth at the receiver spot.
The offensive line returns two very good juniors, who are big and physical, including Ketaj Castillo and Ahmad Bradley.
Just as important is the return of extremely talented junior quarterback Travis Mumphrey, Jr., an outstanding runner and thrower. Seniors Brandon Brown and Jormaine Coleman provide a very good 1-2 punch at running back.
Defensively, safety Isiah Windmon is outstanding. Up front, junior Earl Barquet is a budding star while junior Eldridge Walker should play a bigger role. Senior Brandon Jeudy is a fine linebacker.
Others to watch: Zachary, Acadiana, Catholic (BR), Hahnville, Brother Martin, Mandeville, Ponchatoula, St. Augustine, Covington, Sulphur, Barbe, Ruston, Ouachita Parish, Dutchtown, St. Amant.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE 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 Sports Media Association, National Football…