Karr Cougars poised to make run at three-peat
When you call roll for the very best football programs in Louisiana, it does not take long to do so to get to Edna Karr.
In fact, based on the last two seasons you would have to put the Cougars at the top of the list.
Since 2010, Karr has won three Class 4A state championships and reached the title game seven of eight times.
“We’re trying to put that behind us,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a different team, different look, with some young guys.”
Entering his fourth season, Brice Brown has done a magnificent job.
Brown has taken his Cougars to the title game in all three previous seasons and, as mentioned, has won the last two championships.
To return to the promised land, the Cougars will have to overcome the loss of 15 senior starters from a year ago, including quarterback Skyler Perry (Texas Wesleyan), Lemar Johns (Texas Wesleyan), Chance Carroll (Texas Wesleyan), Anthony Spurlock (Western Kentucky), Quindell Johnson (Memphis), Kendell Johnson (Memphis), Titus Jones (Memphis), Ronnell Burbank (McNeese), Reggie Young (Northwestern State) and Jamier Jackson (Delta State).
“Every year, it seems like we are talking about the same thing, the guys we lost to graduation,” Brown said. “The good thing coaching at Karr is that we are blessed to keep getting good players who buy into the program. It seems like it’s getting a little easier because kids understand out standards and our program coming in.”
It is a daunting task but this is Karr under the tutelage of Brown and a superb coaching staff.
Back to lead the way are senior running backs Ronnie Jackson (5-10, 195) and Ahmad Antoine (5-11, 190).
“They had good offseasons,” Brown said. “Ahmad put on some weight and Ronnie lost a little weight. Ronnie played last year with a torn meniscus and toughed it out. Ahmad has worked on his receiving abilities. We’re lucky to have two backs like that. It’s rare to see that in high school football.”
Junior Leonard Kelly, a transfer from De La Salle and senior Caleb Lee are battling for the starting quarterback spot.
“We’re at camp right now,” Brown said. “Leonard Kelly is in the lead right now. He sat our last year. He has bought in. He has a gifted arm. He has quarterback savvy. Caleb is battling hard and he will battle to the end. He has been with us a while. We feel both will play.”
The clear strength of the offense is at wide receiver.
Seniors Michael Corner (6-1 ,170), Dylan Hill (6-1, 185) and Khalfani Simmons (5-11, 170) return to lead the receiving corps. All had excellent junior seasons, combining for 62 receptions and 12 touchdowns.
“We are loaded at wide receiver,” Brown said. “We have eight or nine guys that can play. A lot of people talk about Corner, Hill and Simmons but Jahii Howard is talented as well and we have talented young guys behind them.”
Karr has been more run-oriented under Brown but may throw it more this season.
“We want more balance this year,” Brown said. “We ran it nearly 75 percent of the time last year. We were good at it and our wide receivers were young. They are experienced now. When we pass it 70 percent of the time, we lose in championship games. When we have balance or run it, we win.”
Up front, senior tackle Ronnie Lyons (6-3, 280) is the only starter returning from a year ago.
“The offensive line is the big question mark for us,” Brown said. “It is a young group. We have some good young talented guys who are competing. They will improve as the season progresses. We are working on getting these guys ready.”
The defense returns a star up front in senior Austin Kent (6-1, 270).
“Just like on the offensive line, we lost good defensive linemen,” Brown said. “Austin is the man. We will switch up our fronts with three and four-man fronts. Kent has offers but he is focused on getting our younger players better. He has been voted captain by his teammates.”
The best player on the Karr roster is senior defensive back Devin Bush (6-0, 180), who has multiple SEC offers.
Cornerbacks Tariq Mulmore (5-11, 175) and Chaz Bates (5-7, 153) return to start at cornerback.
The secondary is one of the most talented groups on our team,” Brown said. “We are going to play as many as six corners. Devin had an amazing offseason. So many schools are after him now. He has earned it. He is really working on his leadership skills. He will play some safety as well. Bates is a three-year starter who has been brilliant for us. Mulmore is a track star who can run. We will rotate a lot of guys.”
The schedule opens on the road in Covington at always tough St. Paul’s on Aug. 31 before the annual showdown with rival Landry-Walker at Behrman Stadium on Sept. 7. The Cougars will try to avenge their lone loss of a year ago against De La Salle on Sept. 14 at Behrman Stadium. A tough game at home against Carver follows.
After taking on John F. Kennedy at Joe Brown Stadium, the Cougars celebrate Homecoming against traditional rival McDonogh 35 on Oct. 5.
“As always, we don’t spare any punches with our schedule,” Brown said. “St. Paul’s is good and it is a tough environment. We play Landry-Walker, our biggest rival. De La Salle beat us last year and they will test us. Those three games will tell us where we are and what we need to improve upon if we want to win another state championship.”
District 9-4A play begins on Oct. 11 at Belle Chasse before Karr entertains McMain. A trip to Hoss Memtsas Stadium to take on Helen Cox is set for week nine before the Cougars close with perhaps their biggest game of the year at home against talented Warren Easton on Nov. 1 at Behrman Stadium. The Cougars beat the Eagles twice a year ago, including a tough 20-12 state semifinal contest.
“I think the league will be more competitive this year,” Brown said. “Helen Cox has a lot of talent, McMain will be improved. Belle Chasse is hard-nosed. Warren Easton is, of course, very good again. We’re tired of playing the same people again in the playoffs but we will do what we have to do. The competition in the city of New Orleans is very tough.”
Despite suffering the loss of a ton of talent to graduation, Karr will be a serious contender again in 2018. As history suggests, the Cougars do not rebuild, they reload.
“This team, in my opinion, has more depth than last year,” Brown said.
Click here for more Crescent City Sports high school football team previews.
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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…