Orleans Parish Public Schools strongly represented in state football playoffs

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Edna Karr football
(Photo: Beau Brune)

In the post-Katrina world of Orleans Parish public school football, Karr has been a dominant force in Louisiana while Warren Easton has flourished as a championship contender and frequent state finalist. Landry-Walker, now L.B. Landry, won a state title in 2016.

For most other Orleans public school football programs, it has been a bit of a struggle.

Karr (6-3), which has won six state titles, including five post Katrina, has not lost a game on the field this season and has to be considered the favorite in the Select Division I bracket despite having to forfeit three wins earlier this season and being just the No. 7 seed overall under the brilliant coaching of Brice Brown.

Warren Easton (9-1) is the top seed in the Select Division I playoffs and certainly has a chance to get to the Caesars Superdome in December under the outstanding tutelage of Jerry Phillips. The Eagles have reached the championship game four times since 2014, still in search of an elusive title.

In 2022, many Orleans Parish schools are rising from the depths of the power ratings to being playoff programs again.

In the Select Division II bracket, Landry earned the 14th seed despite a 4-5 record, largely due to playing an extremely challenging schedule with included Karr, St. Augustine, Archbishop Shaw, East St. John and Belle Chasse, among others.

Landry won the Class 5A state championship in 2016 under Emmanuel Powell. In six seasons, Powell, now at Helen Cox, posted a terrific 70-19 record as head coach of the school, which was Landry-Walker, a merger of L.B. Landry and O. Perry Walker and is now back to being L.B. Landry.

The last winning season for the Buccaneers came in 2018 under Powell, who left after that season.

The Buccaneers were 3-6 a year ago and were 3-3 in 2020. Landry was 4-6 in 2019.

Enter Noel Ellis.

A former star at Karr and Tulane, Ellis was part of an outstanding state championship coaching staff at Karr with Brice Brown before joining another outstanding coaching staff at Warren Easton under Jerry Phillips, another former Karr and Tulane star.

Ellis took over the program this year and he has the Buccaneers pointed in the right direction.

Landry enters the playoffs off a thrilling 20-17 overtime win over Belle Chasse.

The Buccaneers will host No. 19 Vandebilt Catholic Friday night at 7 p.m. at Behrman Stadium.

“I think it’s a great thing for Orleans Parish public schools, especially for those who don’t get the recognition that Karr and Easton get,” Ellis said. “To see Kennedy, M.L. King, Sophie B. Wright, Carver, Booker T. Washington, Douglass, Livingston in the playoffs, it helps us all and helps families know than come to any of us and have a chance to compete and win.”

Does Ellis feel his program is making progress toward being a title contender again?

“We are working hard to get back to being a championship level program,” Ellis said. “We are doing it the right way. We are trying to model the success of Karr and Easton. We have to keep chopping wood to get to the top of the tree. It will not happen overnight.”

Landry has a real challenge on its hands Friday night.

“Vandebilt is well coached and they have speed on the perimeter,” Ellis said. “They play disciplined football defensively.We have to play well. We will have our work cut out for us.”

Also in the Select Division II bracket, No. 11 seed McDonogh 35 (7-3) hosts No. 22 Peabody. The Roneagles are trying to play Friday at Pan American Stadium at 7 p.m.

A veteran team, the Roneagles reached the semifinals in Class 3A in 2019 under the late Wayne Reese. In his third season, Frank Daggs has the Roneagles ready to make a run.

“I like our chances because I see we are almost on a level playing field with others,” Daggs said. “Peabody is well coached. They will be a challenge. We have to start fast.”

Daggs has been at McDonogh 35 for nearly two decades and has seen the best and occasionally, the worst of Orleans public school football.

“What I see in all the Orleans Parish teams is good coaching all around,” Daggs said. “It is not that it was bad before, it is just very good now. Coaching matters and commitment by schools to succeeding matters. We compete against each other but we help each other, also.”

Another Select Division II matchup features a pair of Orleans Parish schools square off as No. 23 Douglass (3-5) battles No. 10 Livingston Collegiate (8-2) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Joe Brown Stadium.

The Wolves handled the Bobcats 40-6 on September 16.

Devon Francois, a former assistant at Sophie B. Wright, Jefferson Rise, St. Augustine, Booker T. Washington and Jefferson Rise Middle School has experienced success, including as a former player at Karr and Alcorn State.

Livingston has eight wins in just its third year of varsity football.

The Wolves were 4-4 in 2019 and did not play in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Livingston Collegiate was 3-4.

Then came 2022 and a vastly improved team like many others in Orleans Parish.

“I think it is the right time,” Francois said. “We have great quality, young coaches in New Orleans who can relate to kids. A lot of kids are staying in their neighborhoods at their schools and making programs better. We are getting quality coaches in every part of the city and I think you are seeing a difference. It will balance out pretty soon.”

As for seeing Douglass a second time, Francois is philosophical about the matchup.

“We have addressed it like it is a new opponent,” Francois said. “It is extremely tough to beat a team twice in a season. The only way to be successful is to be consistent, one snap at a time and to respect Douglass. We have to play better on special teams.”

As for the Bobcats, Corey McCloud has done a fine job in building and rebuilding his program.

“We are thrilled to back in the playoffs,” McCloud said. “We are working hard to build a consistently good program. We are moving in the right direction.”

Douglass is a good case study in the growth of Orleans Parish public schools in football.

“One of our alums pointed out that we’ve been to the playoffs five times in my six years here,” McCloud said. “That puts things in perspective. We grew the numbers but Hurricane Ida set us back. We’ve had a resurgence this year and everyone is excited about football again. It is good to see Orleans schools doing well overall.”

In another matchup of Orleans Parish public schools, No. 15 Carver (4-5) will host No. 15 Booker T. Washington (4-6) Friday night at 7 p.m. at Joe Brown Stadium.

Rams coach Byron Addison is in his 12th season on the job.

Carver reached the Class 2A semifinals in 2012 and Carver has reached the playoffs in all 12 of Addison’s years on the job. The Rams reached the Class 4A quarterfinals a year ago, falling to Karr in the round of eight.

The Rams and Lions played in a jamboree before the season with the Lions winning 20-12.

“I think it’s great that our Orleans Parish schools are coming back stronger now in football,” Addison said. “It is great for everyone and it should only get better. It raises the bar for all of us to continue work hard to improve and keep up with each other.”

Addison expects a tough battle with the Lions Friday night.

“Booker T. Washington is a smash-mouth team,” Addison said. “It will be a physical game. We will have to play smart and minimize mistakes and we have to tackle well with Arnold Barnes.”

Wayne Reese Jr. has done an excellent job in his five years with the Lions and watched Booker T. Washington, Carver and McDonogh 35 operate under his father, Wayne Reese Sr., when the elder was the coach at those schools.

“I think there is better funding for Orleans Parish school football,” Reese said. “My dad had under-funded programs at Booker T. Washington and Carver. It is better now. With the one-app enrollment program, you will get some kids in your programs. Not everyone can go to and play at Karr and Easton, who are terrific.”

As for the matchup, Reese knows it will likely go down to the wire.

“Carver is better now than when we saw them in August,” Reese said. “They are well coached and have played good competition. They have had success in the playoffs recently.”

In the Select Division III bracket, No. 16 Sophie B. Wright (6-4) will entertain No. 17 D’Arbonne Woods at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Pan American Stadium.

In 2019, Sophie B. Wright was 1-9 and the Warriors went 0-8 in 2020.

Enter Kenneth Dorsey.

A former assistant at highly successful Amite, St. Augustine and Booker T. Washington, Dorsey served as Interim head coach at St. Augustine in 2019.

After going 2-5 in 2021, Dorsey produced a winner this season and had to overcome the tragedy of losing one of his players, who passed away recently.

“The kids bought into what we were preaching since January,” Dorsey said. “They understood what I hoped for. It was so hard with one of our young men being killed three weeks ago. We bounced back. It is a testament to them for working hard.”

Dorsey understands the value of football in all inner cities schools.

“It’s big for the city of New Orleans to see our public schools competing better,” Dorsey said. “It helps the psyche of the city and positive nature of the schools. There are good coaches at the schools and that helps.”

Also in the Select Division III playoffs, No. 13 M.L. King Charter (6-4) is at home against Thomas Jefferson (5-4) Friday at 7 p.m. Harrell Playground.

In just the second year of the program, Joe Riley has the Jaguars in the playoffs.

“It’s a beautiful thing for the parish,” Riley said. “I think there is good talent all over the place and there is great interest. I’m happy for all schools in New Orleans being on the rise. We don’t get what Karr and Easton have but we have solid players. I’m so happy for the entire parish. Look at our teams that home games.”

After losing its last three games to quality opponents in St. Charles Catholic, Newman and Country Day, the Jaguars are looking to rebound Friday.

“Thomas Jefferson gives you different looks,” Riley said. “They are a well coached team. We must prepare well and translate that to the field Friday night. We take no one lightly.”

The past of losing football is fading fast among Orleans Parish schools.

The future looks bright for Orleans Parish high school football as a whole.

The present is the focus this weekend.

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Ken Trahan


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…

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