John Curtis, Karr meet for district title in battle of titans
One of the most anticipated games of the year in the state arrives Friday night at Yulman Stadium when John Curtis Christian faces Edna Karr.
While Karr has an official record of 5-3, everyone knows the Cougars are unbeaten on the field and, along with Destrehan, the Cougars have been the most impressive team on the field, likely the most impressive, based on the challenging schedule Karr has navigated and basically destroyed in the process.
On the field, the closest games Karr has played were a 16-point win over Jesuit and a 21-point win over Archbishop Rummel.
This week, the Cougars face their stiffest test yet against an improving, strong team and traditional power in John Curtis Christian.
The game is set for Friday night at Yulman Stadium.
The Patriots (8-1) have won seven straight games after losing at defending Class 5A state champion Zachary in week two.
Even though the two powers are in District 9-5A together for the first time this season, they have been meeting on the field in fine fashion now for a few years.
Karr beat John Curtis 33-19 a year ago, the first win for the Cougars over the Patriots.
Karr, Anderson display vast talent in win over John Curtis on national stage
The game was decided on special teams as Aaron Anderson took over the game, returning three different kicks for touchdowns.
Anderson returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score, a punt 88 yards for a touchdown and went the distance on a free kick covering 60 yards.
It was the second straight win for the Cougars over the Patriots. Karr won a 36-33 thriller in 2020.
John Curtis edged 42-39 in 2019.
Going back to when Nathaniel Jones was the coach at Karr, the Patriots defeated the Cougars 34-22 in 2014 and 38-33 in 2013.
Overall, John Curtis has controlled the series by a 10-3 margin.
The Cougars edged the Patriots 14-12 in 2002 by under the late Don Wattigny.
Karr is led by senior quarterback AJ Samuel, who threw four touchdown passes in last week’s 35-14 win over Archbishop Rummel. On the season, Samuel has thrown 20 touchdown passes and he has rushed for a total of four scores.
Running backs Deantre Jackson and Christopher Vasquez are excellent.
Makhi Paris and Kylen Lampton lead a talented receiving corps.
Defensively, senior defensive end Jonathan Bax, a TCU commit, has been tremendous. Bax had three sacks against Rummel. Cornerback Ryan Robinson Jr. has been outstanding as well.
Karr coach Brice Brown feels this year’s game will be a little different.
“This year, it’s a little different because we are playing them at the end of the season, rather than the beginning,” Brown said. “I think we have both hit our stride and both teams are playing their best football at the end of the season. The key is whether both teams can get through the flu stuff going on and being healthy.”
Having faced Curtis several times, Brown knows what his team must do to win.
“You have to be willing to do your job consistently for all four quarters, regardless of the score,” Brown said. “No matter what the score is, they will run what they run. You have to be disciplined. Offensively, you have to take what they give you. Defensively, you have to take away the dives.”
While everyone will focus on offense and defense, it is the other aspect of the game that intrigues Brown.
“I think the kicking game is the most important phase,” Brown said. “If you give us a short field, we will have success. We made big plays in the kicking game against them last year. That could be the deciding factor. Field position will be very important.”
For John Curtis, Dagan Bruno has taken the controls of the offense, completing 62 percent of his passes and rushing for 174 yards and two scores. Bruno and Jordan Smith were splitting time but Smith has been out with a fractured tibia.
Marlon Prout has been outstanding, rushing 89 times for 678 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Michael Turner and Tyler Mitchell are top receivers. Turner has 14 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns while Mitchell has 13 receptions for 235 yards and four scores.
Defensively, Justin Horne leads John Curtis with 99 tackles, including four sacks and Tyler Hayes has three interceptions.
J.T. Curtis has been at the helm for all 13 meetings with Karr.
“We were in the same district together for a few years for about 10 years,” Curtis said. “We always had good, highly competitive games. Don’s teams were well prepared. In recent years, both programs were looking for games and both knew it would be a challenge for us to grow as teams and to compete at a high level.”
Curtis says the game benefits both teams.
“Every single time we play, we learn from each other and get better from it. At least we don’t have to worry about kicking the ball to Anderson this year.”
While Karr has had outstanding individuals, the 2022 Cougars are the consummate team.
“They are playing really well as a unit, offensively and defensively, and they make plays in the kicking game,” Curtis said. “Samuel is a veteran player and is playing at a very high level. This is as well as I’ve ever seen them play. We have to prevent the big play.”
The two programs are among the elite programs in Louisiana.
John Curtis has won 27 state championships on the field, all under J.T. Curtis since 1975. The Patriots have 26 titles officially and the have played in 10 other title games.
Karr has won six state titles, all since 1993, and have played in seven other title games since then.
If the season ended today, John Curtis would be the third seed, behind Warren Easton and Catholic of Baton Rouge, in the Division I select playoffs while Karr could finish anywhere from eighth to 15th.
A Cougar victory could give Karr an outside shot at rising as high as the eighth spot and earning a first round bye in the same class.
Otherwise, someone will face the unenviable task of having to face the Cougars in the opening round.
Depending on how the brackets align next week, the Patriots and Cougars could see each other again—in the Caesars Superdome in December.
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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…