University High, De La Salle top CrescentCitySports.com Class 3A rankings

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University High Football 2016
(Photo: Bill Arthurs)

A perennial power, University High won a state championship in Class 3A in 2014. After a year of growing pains, the Cubs appear poised to make a serious run at a state championship in 2017.

Lurking at the top as well are De La Salle, Madison Prep and St. Charles Catholic, all of whom made very deep runs in the playoffs a year ago.

Here is your CrescentCitySports.com Top 10 rankings, along with others to watch for 2017:

1) University High–A year ago, the Cubs were a young team playing a very tough schedule. They played eventual Division II state champion St. Thomas More to a virtual standoff, losing 40-35 in the semifinals.

Prince Pines is a huge, talented offensive lineman while Grant Bonnette is a fine athlete. Junior Mike Hollins is an outstanding running back while Christian Harris is a terrific talent. Junior John Gordon McKernan brings experience to the quarterback position. Bryton Constantin returns as well to what is a very talented team.

2) De La Salle–After a run to the Division II semifinals a year ago, the Cavaliers are determined to take it a step further in 2017.

To do so, Ryan Manale will have to overcome the loss of key players such as Josh Paul, Quincy Cage, Ricco Wheat and DanQuan Edwards.

Fortunately, there remains an abundance of talent, led by senior quarterback Julien Gums. Junior Kendall Collins is the tailback. Jeremiah James is a top offensive lineman while senior Nick Guthrie and junior Bryce Fricke are good. He is a Nicholls commit. Seniors Ahmad Munoz and Aaron Marques are good receivers.

Defensively, veteran Eddie Jaquillard arrives from Rummel to coordinate the unit.

Lineman Jamiran James is the top player and a Tulane commitment and Noble Scott and Lance Robinson are standouts in the secondary. Robinson is committed to Kansas State. Senior Robert Lestrick is a physical linebacker.

3) Madison Prep–A year ago, Madison Prep was unable to finish what it started, falling in an upset in the Class 2A state championship game. The Chargers lost nine senior starters on offense but have six starters back on defense.

Tyrese Walker leads the way at running back and is an outstanding safety while Myles Patin returns in the backfield as well. The defensive front is solid, led by Michael Henderson and Luther Lamotte. Linebackers Kirk Snearl and Bertrand Carrell return while in the secondary, Braylen Bolden is a standout.

4) St. Charles Catholic–Start with one of the very best coaches in Louisiana prep history in Frank Monica and you are off to a great beginning.

Have your best athlete in Lloyd Nash taking every offensive snap and your chances improved greatly. The Comets played for the 2016 Division III state title, maximizing their talent and effort. They will be better in 2017.

Running backs Narquez Jones and Phillip Tran return and the offensive line is experienced. Darrin Blystad is an excellent receiver and Trey Joseph is solid. Dellary Oubre is a standout linebacker while defensive ends Jared Babesh and Gavin St. Pierre are bookends.

5) West Feliciana–It was tough in 2016. The Saints were the top-seed in Class 3A and lost a squeaker to eventual state champion Lutcher in the semifinals. It was the third straight trip to the semifinals for West Feliciana.

Davon Harris is an outstanding running back while Jacob Fudge is a leader on the offensive line. Derek Turner returns at quarterback and Derius Davis is a top cornerback defensively.

There is little doubt that the bitter taste of coming so close three straight years stings and the Saints are fully capable of winning 3A in 2015.

6) St. James–Robert Valdez has been successful, wherever he had coached. That success has carried over to St. James.

The Wildcats were 8-3 in 2016 and could surpass that mark in 2016.

Quarterback Demarcus Williams leads the way. He accounted for 25 touchdowns a year ago. Wide receiver Dontaze Costly is simply outstanding. He caught 11 touchdown passes a year ago. Running back Curtlan Johnson ran for 1,023 yards and 14 touchdowns a year ago. Defensively, Glenn Brown III is a secondary star, having recorded six interceptions a year ago while senior Shawn Preston is good as well. Senior defensive tackle Jason Dumas is stout.

7) Sterlington–It was a dream season for the Panthers a year ago, ending with a thrilling victory in the Class 2A state title game for their first-ever state championship.

Senior Carson Clowers returns at quarterback and should be very good. He was the Most Outstanding Player in the state championship game. The Panthers must replace tough fullback Tyler Muse. Junior Malik Davis will be counted on at running back. Landon Jinks, Trey Rugg and Chandler Jones return on the offensive line.

The defense returns six starters, including Tanner Coley, Dawson Snell and Chase Carter up front and Trey Eddins in the secondary.

8) Iowa–It was a very good season for Iowa in 2016. The Yellow Jackets earned the second-seed in Class 3A and lost a tough quarterfinal battle to Amite. There is reason for great optimism in 2017.

It all starts with senior quarterback Dyami Huntsberry, who passed for 2,169 yards and 32 touchdowns a year ago. Huntsberry added three rushing touchdowns.

The Yellow Jackets must replace top running back Joseph Figueroa. Senior Cole Fleming returns after catching 11 touchdown passes while senior Marka’il Nixon had six touchdown receptions a year ago. Kicker Jaron Dugas is back as well.Darius Daniels is an outstanding defensive back.

9) Berwick–The Panthers were a solid 8-3 in 2016 and will be good again in 2017.

Wide receiver Kenan Jones is an elite talent, an LSU commitment while senior Josh Carver caught 12 touchdown passes last season. Senior Collin Louviere returns to throw to Jones after tossing 16 touchdown passes last season. Junior Joshua Jones was the team’s leading rusher as a sophomore.

If the defense can step up a bit, Berwick will be a real threat in 3A.

10) Jena–The Giants reached the second round of the 3A playoffs a year ago and figure to go deeper this season.

Wide receiver Jaray Jenkins is an LSU commitment. Senior Lamar Harris returns at quarterback after accounting for 21 touchdowns a year ago. Sophomore Trelon Jones and senior Chico Savage provide a terrific 1-2 punch in the running game. Junior linebacker Troy Dangerfield returns and was the team’s leading tackler a year ago. Junior strong safety Shaun Todd is outstanding as well. Junior defensive end Devin Richey is superb.

Others to watch: Jennings, Loranger, Union Parish, Marksville, Kaplan, Church Point, Northwest, Wossman, Crowley, Archbishop Hannan, Erath, St. Louis Catholic, Patterson, North Vermilion, Loyola Prep

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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…

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