One of the most underrated defensive backs out of John F. Kennedy High School will be putting his talents on display in the Southland conference the next four years.
Thomas held offers from UAB, ULM, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee, Northwestern State, & Nicholls State. The Lions coaching staff made a big impression on Thomas throughout his recruitment & it ended up being the difference. “Every time I went on campus I felt right at home,” Thomas said. “My relationship with coach Scelfo, Coach Guidry, & coach Joseph played a big part into why I felt like this was where I belonged.”
Many believe had Thomas not been plagued by injuries the last year & a half he would have been sought after by some bigger programs. I’m sure Southeastern head coach Frank Scelfo & his staff glad it played out the way it did.
The 6-foot, 190 pound defensive back will be asked to play a number of roles in the secondary, but nickel back is where he’ll see some time at early as a freshman. Thomas excels at being physical at the line of scrimmage along with reading and reacting to the wide receiver and the quarterback. His ability to go from seeing it to processing it to reacting is what makes Thomas special in my mind.
Karr came in as the number three seed (11-2) making their fifth consecutive championship game appearance and ninth in 10 years while Easton came in as the 20th seed (9-4) making their second consecutive trip to the dome and third in six seasons.
Both teams came in riding winning streaks Karr (9 games) & Easton (8 games). It’s safe to say Karr was sort of expected to be here, but Easton not so much. And that’s exactly how Easton head coach Jerry Phillips likes it because he knew it would make his team feel disrespected. They took the disrespect very well with playoff upset wins against No. 13 Peabody 44-6, No. 4 Tioga 35-26, No. 5 Carencro 34-22 and No. 1 Lakeshore 64-55 in last Friday at Lakeshore.
Easton senior running back Ashaad Clayton *Colorado commit* has played out of his mind during their playoff run & the entire season for that matter accumulating 2,056 yards rushing & 29 touchdowns. Could the 6-foot, 197 pound running back put on his superman cape one last time to give his school their first state championship victory since 1942?
The Karr Cougars came in chasing greatness trying to accomplish a four peat & head coach Brice Brown knew this one would be the most difficult. Karr seemed to have the game in the bag up 35-28 with 11:21 left in the fourth on the Easton 1 yard line. But the Easton defense would hold & stop the Karr offense on a fourth-and-goal. The Easton offense would go 99 yards & get a 7 yard touchdown run by Dayshawn Holmes to put them in position to tie or go for the win with a two point conversion.
The Eagles came out in a swinging- gate formation for the two point try, but the Cougars defense came up with a huge stop after senior Joshua Randall beat his man to help keep the Cougars up 35-34. The game was far from over after the Eagles would recover an onside kick. But the play of the game would come from Karr defensive back Jacob Livas when he went up & made a spectacular interception to pretty much put the nail in the coffin.
After three straight runs, the Cougars would punt out of its own end zone with 9 seconds left & Easton would let the ball bounce eventually running out the clock.
Karr became only the third school in the state’s history to win four state championships in a row. The other two are John Curtis & Evangel. Since 2010 Karr has an impressive record of 122-20.
Karr senior quarterback Leonard Kelly was named MVP & with good reason finishing the game with 226 yards passing, 99 yards rushing to go with 1 rushing touchdown & 1 throwing touchdown. Kelly finished his high school career 27-2 to go with 2 state titles as a starter.
Sophomore phenom receiver Aaron Anderson had his struggles throughout the game with 4 fumbles, but still managed to finish the game with 134 yards receiving & 1 touchdown. Anderson totaled up over 300 all-purpose yards for the game as well.
Senior running back Ashaad Clayton made his case on why he should’ve been named Gatorade Player of the Year finishing the game with 208 yards rushing & 3 touchdowns.
Freshman linebacker Jirrea Johnson was spectacular for the Eagles finishing the game with 16 tackles & 3 TFLs.
Written by Kyle Valdez
On Tuesday night in Berwick, a rare matchup of cross-town schools squared off as the Central Catholic Eagles defeated Berwick by a score of 72-43. Although Central entered the game as the favorites, the rivalry game antics resulted in the talk about a potential upset. Amidst all the pre-game chatter, Central Catholic jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead and never looked back.
DJ Lewis, Taylor Blanchard, and Tyler Smith led the Eagles on offense – combing for 49 points. The 6’7 Lewis was active on the boards all night and running the floor to finish with 19 points. Blanchard and Smith each finished with 15 points. Point guard Davidyione Bias also had a positive impact – finishing with just 5 points, he rebounded and set up his teammates for easy looks around the rim. Dayton Clark scored 11 points and Blain Louviere scored 17 to lead Berwick.
In the first quarter, both teams were missing open shots from the field. However, both teams made their way to the free throw line – Central shooting 8/10 and Berwick 3/8. After the first quarter, Central led 22-10. Central extended their lead to 19 points at the half, outscoring Berwick 19-11 in the second period. DJ Lewis was a presence inside: getting offensive put backs, running the floor for transition buckets, and anchoring the defense down low for the Eagles. Lewis finished the first half with 15 points and 3 trips to the free throw line.
In the second half, it was more of the same as Berwick could only cut the lead down to 16. Berwick received offensive contribution from Dayton Clark as he would show off his versatile scoring ability by knocking down four field goals from to score 9 in the period. However, it was too little too late for the Panthers. Central held a 57-34 lead going into the fourth and kept the intensity up until the final buzzer. Tyler Smith was all gas, no brakes in the fourth quarter – playing at a Russell Westbrook type-intensity until he was subbed out with a few minutes remaining. Although Smith finished with 5 points in the quarter, he earned 4 trips to the free throw line, deflected multiple passes, and was running in transition. When the final buzzer sounded, Central had built a 72-43 lead.
For the Eagles, this win should be a confidence booster, to say the least. After securing the #2 seed and reaching the Division IV semi-finals a year ago, they’re off to a shaky start at 4-3 and suffered a blow out loss to Patterson this weekend. Tonight, Central looked impressive but simply missed to many easy looks around the basket. They ran good breaks, made the right passes, but would blow easy layups much too often. Although it’s hard to criticize the team that won by nearly 30 points, they could have easily put up 85-90 points. The individuals on the roster showcased their talents tonight: Taylor Blanchard stood out in particular. The 6’5 SF looked like a legit D1 prospect, displaying the ability to move well at his size and make shots from all areas on the court. Moving off the ball well too, he created open perimeter shots for himself; he also has the ability to put the ball on the deck, attack the rim, and make his free throws (7-7 FT). An underrated aspect of his game is his full-court vision – looking up the floor to find the open man resulted in easy buckets for his teammates. As Central Catholic continues their season, they will emerge as title contenders in Division IV. Especially with LCA moving up to Division III, this might be the year for the Eagles.
Berwick, on the other hand, is trying to re-prove themselves as a playoff contender. After finishing 3-25 last season, Berwick is off to a promising 2-3 start. Excluding the loss to Central Catholic, the Panthers have stayed competitive with every team they’ve faced. Looking at their schedule, they should remain competitive and stay in the Class 3A playoff picture as Central Catholic may be one of their toughest opponents of the season. Looking forward to their next game, the Panthers look to return to the win column with a home contest against Highland Baptist on Friday.
Around this time last year, the former Ellender High School standout didn’t have any division one offers. Well, that changed shortly after his freshman year at Kilgore Junior College in Texas. Williams totaled up over 20 offers his two years at Kilgore from schools like Florida Atlantic, Arkansas St, North Texas, UNC Charlotte & many more.
Williams dominated in his sophomore year finishing up with 48 tackles, 7 sacks, 10 tackles for loss & a blocked field goal. He was named MVP for Southwest Junior College Football Conference this past season & also earned himself first team all-
The 6-foot-1, 305-pound defensive lineman has two years of eligibility left & is expected to come in & start right away for the Cougars. Being able to come in & start was not the only factor into why Williams chose to commit to Houston. “The things they do on defense really fits what I do well,” Williams said. “The relationship my defensive line coach has with coach Holgorsen played a big role because it made me feel comfortable about everything. I loved the culture that they have up there & I got to see it first hand when I went on my official visit.”
Williams also had Texas Tech & Purdue come on & try to sway him away from Houston before he committed. “Florida Atlantic, Purdue, & Texas Tech hopped on me late but my mind was pretty much made up,” Williams said. “Houston did a good job of staying in contact with me everyday & I got to really know the coaching staff.”
In high school Williams was an all-district performer, but he didn’t get recognition from schools like he felt he should have. Going to various camps & having really good showings still wasn’t enough for schools to want to offer him. “I think it was because of my height that a lot of schools didn’t recruit me like that,” Williams said. “Going Juco is not for everybody,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason & going this route made me mentally tough because everybody is hungry for a scholarship. You have to really be dialed in on the details to play at a high level consistently. I didn’t worry about going out & partying, I was focused on trying to make it out because there are so many that don’t.”
Like so many other athletes, Williams learned a lot throughout his recruiting process that he will be able to pass down to the younger kids coming up through high school. “Recruiting can get crazy if you don’t have someone to guide you throughout the process,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to pick a school because of how big it is or how much fun I have on my official visit. I wanted to pick a school because of my relationships with the coaches & how I fit into what they do on defense. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions because I wanted to make sure this was somewhere I was going to be comfortable waking up at everyday.”
Edna Karr ended Neville's 11-year, 28-game home playoff winning streak in a 40-21 win on Friday night at Bill Ruple Stadium.
The Cougars fell behind early 21-7 in the first quarter, but they would remain poised & show why they are considered arguably the best high school football program in the state the last five years. The reigning state champions would score 27 unanswered points in front of a standing room only crowd.
Neville senior quarterback Andrew Brister threw for 281 yards & 3 touchdowns which were all in the first quarter. Karr quarterback Leonard Kelly continues to show why he is just as good as any quarterback in the state regardless of class finishing with 304 yards passing & 5 touchdowns (3 passing & 2 rushing). And although the Cougar offense turned the ball over four times they still managed to accumulate 497 yards of total offense.
It was evident that Neville came out ready to play, but Karr’s resiliency was just too much for the Tigers. The defense from the Cougars was magnificent after the first quarter keeping the Tigers out of the end zone & creating three turnovers. Louisville commit Jamie Vance played a big role in that by picking off Brister twice in the second half. Linebacker Torey Morgan got in on the action stripping Neville running back Max Hunter & cornerback Jamie Vance was there to recover it.
It seems like no matter how tall the task is, the Cougars always find a way to rise to the occasion on the biggest stage. “We played a really tough non-district schedule this season & I think it prepared us for games like this,” Karr head coach Brice Brown said. “When the brackets came out we knew we would meet back up with Neville. They’ve been waiting to get us down here & we were ready for the challenge.”
Edna Karr will face arch rival Warren Easton for the second consecutive year this Saturday at 3:30 for the 4A state championship. “We know they’ll be seeking revenge on Saturday but it’s not about them it’s about us,” Brown said. “As long as we take care of all three phases we should put ourselves in a good position to hold that trophy up again.”
Written by Kyle Valdez
In one of the most anticipated matchups of the playoffs, the Acadiana Wreckin’ Rams topped Zachary 21-14 to reach the Class 5A State Championship game. The Zachary Broncos were the two-time reigning Class 5A state champions, and Acadiana was the 1-seed and carried a perfect 13-0 record into the game. Since 2014, Zachary and Acadiana have squared off in the playoffs six times – with Zachary eliminating the Rams the past two years. Billy Dotson Stadium in Lafayette was packed to its capacity, holding thousands in attendance. Behind the electric, standing-room-only crowd, Acadiana’s defense stepped up all night to hold the high-powered Zachary offense to just 14 points.
Zachary’s QB Keilon Brown (Memphis commit) threw 10-21 for 119 yards and 1 TD pass, also rushing for 70 yards on 10 carries. Receiver Christopher Hilton (Top offers include LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Florida) caught 4 passes for 61 yards. Acadiana RB Dillan Monette (Army Commit) led the Acadiana offensive attack with 137 rushing yards and 1 TD run on 25 carries. However, it was the Acadiana defense that should be highly credited for the win.
Holding a high-powered Zachary team to just 14 points is no easy task. Acadiana CB Laterrance Welch, who broke up Keilon Brown’s final pass attempt to Christopher Hilton, talked about his tough assignment for the night, “Our defense played great all year, but we stepped up even more tonight. We tried clamping up even more. I’m just a sophomore, so I stepped up and guarded a four-star receiver.”
To begin the game, Acadiana went off for a 70-yard, 6-minute drive that was completed when Tyvin Zeno scored on a 14-yard TD run. After holding Zachary, Acadiana took over and completed yet another strong drive. The Wreckin’ Rams went 65 yards on 9 plays. After originally setting up for a field goal, one of Zachary’s players jumped off-sides, causing Acadiana to go for it on fourth down. The off-sides penalty proved to be crucial as Dillan Monette would go on to break multiple tackles en route to an 18-yard TD run – giving Acadiana a 14-0 lead with 11:52 left in the second quarter.
After multiple possession changes, Zachary finally got on the scoreboard after going 63 yards on just 4 plays. The 90-second possession began with a 27-yard Hilton reception to put the Broncos inside the Rams’ 25-yard line. After Keilon Brown ran for 10 yards, Rodrick Duhe Jr. scored the ball from 2 yards out with 57 seconds left in the half.
To kill the Bronco’s momentum entering the half, Acadiana had a response of their own. In just five plays, Acadiana marched 64 yards in 49 seconds. With 8 seconds left in the half, QB Keontae Williams hit Braven Broussard for a 33-yard TD reception. The Acadiana drive proved to be crucial as the second half consisted of a defensive battle.
In the third quarter, Zachary had multiple chances to capitalize on Acadiana’s mishaps. In back-to-back plays for Acadiana, they would fumble deep inside Zachary’s territory. After going three-and-out after Acadiana’s first fumble, the Broncos would take advantage the next time. Zachary would cut the lead in half after covering 80 yards in just 2:30 - Keilon Brown threw a 22-yard TD pass to Jayden Williams with 11:28 left in the fourth quarter.
Despite Zachary scoring off the second Acadiana fumble, the Rams still stood strong. RB Jeremiah “Lucky” Brooks discussed his team’s confidence and overcoming adversity in the second half, “In times like that, people start getting down on themselves. When you are a leader like Dillan, Tyvin, and me, we all just rally together and make sure everyone’s head is up - everybody does their assignments and takes care of what they have to do.”
With the score 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, Acadiana had a final opportunity to put the game away with a score. Despite being on the Zachary 1-yard line, Acadiana would get shut down at the goal line and would turn the ball over on downs. Why did they not kick a field goal? The world may never know, but the coaching mishap would give Zachary a chance to tie the ball game with 2:40 left in the game from their own 1-yard line. The Broncos would get one first down, but Brown would later get sacked, and have the final pass of his high school career be knocked incomplete on fourth down.
Dillan Monette talked about the game and what it was like for the seniors playing their last home game of their high school career, “If you want to be a champion, you have to make championship plays. We approached this game thinking win, lose or draw, we’re going to go out there and ball... It was an amazing feeling. It all happens so fast and I didn’t really notice it until I actually lived through it. It’s a special feeling right now because the last time we were in the Dome was 2014. Now, we’re making history, we’re undefeated right now, and we’re trying to finish it off undefeated.”
Before Acadiana can claim a state championship and finish off their aspiring15-0 season, Destrehan awaits them on Poydras St. Destrehan is entering the state championship as winners of seven straight, including their insane 20-17 over #2 West Monroe. While Acadiana is still the massive favorites, the Rams must show up one more time if they want to claim a title.
Written by Kyle Valdez
The three-time reigning 4A State Champion Edna Karr Cougars continued their postseason dominance with a blowout 51-14 win over 6-seeded Breaux Bridge. The win stretches the Cougars’ playoff win streak to 18 straight games and, more importantly, gives Karr an opportunity to make it to the Dome for the fifth straight year. Leonard Kelly, Aaron Anderson, and Destyn Pazon led the offense on Friday night at Behrman Stadium in New Orleans.
QB Leonard Kelly (offers from Nicholls St. and Northwestern St.) threw for 257 yards and 5 TDs on 15-17 passing. Receivers Aaron Anderson (Offers include Colorado, Miami, Virginia) and Destyn Pazon (Top offers include Alabama, LSU, Houston) both had huge nights. The insanely dynamic Anderson caught 6 passes for 152 receiving yards and 3 TDs. Pazon, the 11th ranked player in Louisiana’s 2021 class (per 247 ranking), caught 4 passes for 56 yards and a TD reception. Breaux Bridge had trouble stopping Karr all night.
In the first quarter, Karr took a quick 13-0 lead via a Leonard Kelly QB keeper and a 53-yard pass to Anderson. Just 30 seconds into the second quarter, Karr extended the lead when Kelly hit Anderson for another TD pass to extend the Karr lead to 19-0. Not to only credit Karr’s offense, but the defense set the tone early. Breaux Bridge had questionable play-calling to start the game, choosing to run the ball often. The Karr line contained Breaux Bridge’s dynamic playmakers in Tyrese Martin and Kavion Martin for a great portion of the night. Along with the line, CB Jamie “Greedy” Vance came up with a pick in the second half.
With 10:12 left in the second, Tyrese Martin found a hole, and took the kickoff all the way for 87 yards to put Breaux Bridge on the scoreboard. Karr responded with dominant play to close the half scoring two more TDs to put the halftime score at 32-7. Breaux Bridge opened the half with a 47-yard TD run from Kavion Martin to cut the lead to 32-14. However, the score would be Breaux Bridge’s final score of the night. Kelly would go on to throw 2 more TDs to Anderson and Mister Simmons, while RB Jaiwan Newman would add a TD run with 1:30 remaining in the game.
After the game, receiver Destyn “Fatt” Pazon talked about the big win, “Our main focus was to play hard, play smart, and play together. So as long as we did that, we would get the job done. We take it one game at a time, and we have an overall goal, which is Poydras St.”
Before the Cougars can make it back to Poydras St., they have one remaining task next week on the road. Next week, they travel 4.5 hours north for a state semifinal game against one of the state’s best: Neville High School. Neville carries a 10-2 record into the matchup with their only losses coming to two of the state’s best programs in West Monroe and St. Thomas More. Both teams have plenty of playoff experience and pedigree, the Neville-Karr matchup will be two of the state’s best teams squaring off.
The former all-state point guard gave his pledge to the Colonels on Wednesday ensuring head coach Austin Claunch & his staff that he is staying home. “It just feels right & I like what they are doing with their program,” Rainey said. “They beat Pittsburgh & lost to Illinois in overtime. I was really impressed that they beat a team from the ACC & came close to beating a team from the Big 10.”
Rainey is currently enrolled at Blinn Junior College in Texas where he averaged 10 ppg & 6 apg as a freshman. Through 10 games this season Rainey is averaging 16 ppg, 5.3 apg, 5.2 rpg to go with a 49.1 field goal percentage. Rainey was a two time all-state performer in high school averaging 25 ppg his junior year & 30.1 ppg his senior year.
It was essential that the Colonels keep the talented point guard at home & Rainey expressed the excitement of being able to play in front of his family on a regular basis. “It’s going to feel good playing right up the street from my family & friends,” Rainey said. “My dad drives over 5 hours to Texas to come to my games, so it’s going to make things easier on him & my mom to come see me play now. I can’t wait to have everybody from my area pack Stopher Gym to see me play.”
This will be the second talented guard from the area that the Colonels have done a good job of being able to keep home. The Colonels starting junior point guard Kevin Johnson starred at E.D White High School & has been one of the team’s best players the last two years starting every game last season. “I’ve been knowing coach Claunch since I was a junior in high school when he was just an assistant coach,” Rainey said. “I’m comfortable with him & his style of play. Coach Deloach came seen me play a good bit of times since I’ve been at Blinn & that showed me that they really want me.”
Rainey has Blinn Junior College off to a 9-1 start this season & he’s played a vital role in the team’s success thus far.
Bonnabel & Walker came into this contest as two of the better teams in 5A. It’s no secret that these two programs have made deep runs in the playoffs the last few years. It’s safe to say we’ll see that again come March.
Both teams struggled to put the ball in the hole during the first quarter going into the second quarter tied at 6. Last year’s Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year Jalen Cook was the lone bright spot in the first half scoring 22 of the Wildcat’s 24 points. The Bruins led at the half 35-24 with some excellent guard play by Tyron Williams & Theo Johnson.
The Bruins would turn it up a notch in the second half controlling the glass with a ton of offensive rebounds & creating turnovers that led to easy buckets in transition. The Wildcats could never get over the hump by cutting the lead to under 10. The Bruins would go on to win convincingly 72-56.
Bonnabel senior Tyron Williams was terrific pretty much the whole night knocking down timely jump shots & using his length to finish at the cup all game. Williams finished the game with 19 points & 5 assists. Bonnabel junior Theo Johnson put his mark on the game finishing with 19 points on the game as well.
Jalen Cook had a game high 36 points & 4 steals to lead the Wildcats. Walker standout junior Brian Thomas did not play in the game because of undisclosed reasons.
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