Written by Kyle Valdez
Two nationally ranked teams. Two defending state champions. Two historic high school programs. John Curtis riding a 13-game win streak, and Edna Karr riding a 27-game win streak. Louisiana’s Week 1 matchup between the John Curtis Patriots and the Edna Karr Cougars was destined to be one of the most hyped up and anticipated matchups for the 2019 Louisiana season. In addition to Louisiana, it was also the featured game of the week across multiple national media outlets. Multiple representatives from LSU, Nicholls, Southeastern, and Louisiana-Lafayette came to scout talent from both of the highly talented rosters. Even Alvin Kamara was in attendance, standing along the Karr sideline. Among all the hype and expectations for both teams, the Curtis/Karr matchup did not disappoint one bit. When it was all said and done, Curtis outlasted Karr 42-39 in a memorable offensive shootout.
From the start, the Patriots were ready to play. On the opening kickoff, Curtis’ junior Caleb Spann returned the ball to the Karr nine-yard line, setting the tone for the Patriot offense. A play later, QB Kyle Guggenheim (Army Commit) scored on a 1-yard sneak to give Curtis a 7-0 lead just 1:37 into the first quarter. To make matters worse for Karr, they fumbled on their very first play of the game, giving Curtis the ball on their own 40-yard line. Although Curtis was unable to convert on the next drive, the mistake would foreshadow many crucial mistakes that the Cougars would commit later. The first two minutes of the game also gave John Curtis much confidence. Senior quarterback Collin Guggenheim discussed the fast start, “It was huge, it set the tempo. Turning the opening kick that far and giving the offense good field position to put it in the end zone really fast, let them know we’re here.”
At the 5:47 mark in the first quarter, Karr’s offense found a much-needed breakout play when senior QB Leonard Kelly (Offers from Nicholls and Northwestern St.) found Aaron Anderson (Offers from Colorado, Miami, and Virginia) for a 45-yard TD reception, tying the score at 7-7. Late in the first quarter, Curtis missed an opportunity when senior Shane Goins found a hole in the defense and ran for a 45+ yard run that was called back due to a penalty. In their very next possession, Curtis found a hole in the defense again, but didn’t commit a costly penalty that time. Running an option play, Guggenheim pitched the ball in last second to University of Georgia commit Corey Wren for a 33-yard run to take a 13-6 lead with 10:14 left in the second quarter. After Karr regained the lead by another Aaron Anderson reception, Corey Wren rushed for a 43-yard touchdown, giving Curtis a 20-14 lead with 1:49 in the half.
With under two minutes in the half to go, Karr quickly marched their way inside the 10-yard line, setting themselves up on the eight-yard line with 20 seconds left. However, the Karr offense failed to make a clutch play. Four consecutive plays resulted in a Karr receiver dropping a catchable pass in the end zone. In the first drive of the second half, Karr again failed to put the ball in the end zone from the six-yard line. Another Karr receiver missed an easy catch. Then, Tulane commit Angelo Anderson of John Curtis forced a fumble at the goal line, resulting in a touchback. Although Karr was down just six points during the whole sequence, and eventually took the lead just three minutes later, the missed opportunities made it feel like Karr was eventually going to pay for their earlier miscues in one way or another.
With 11:14 left in the fourth quarter, Guggenheim rushed for an 11-yard touchdown, giving Curtis a 35-21 lead. In the next possession, Karr’s Leonard Kelly hit junior receiver Destyn Pazon (Offers from Alabama, LSU, Colorado, Miami, Tulane) for a 52-yard touchdown reception, cutting the Curtis lead to 35-27 with 8:39 left. After holding Curtis to a three-and-out, Leonard Kelly led a 1:32 drive down the field, capped off by a big 32-yard rushing touchdown to cut the lead to 35-33, but the 2-point conversion resulted in an incomplete pass. With the clock approaching two minutes, Guggenheim sealed the deal when he found an open hole in the Karr defense and broke loose for a 16-yard touchdown, giving the Patriots a commanding 42-33 lead with just 1:50 left in the game.
For Karr, all their mistakes were self-inflicted. When they watch film on Saturday morning, they will see their own mistakes lead way for Curtis to capitalize. Five crucial dropped passes by receivers, a missed extra point, two missed 2-point conversions, and they only lost by 3 points to John Curtis? Karr had too many opportunities to take the lead in this game but simply couldn’t make the big play. Although there were many places to improve on, the bright spots from the contest included the insane performance by QB Leonard Kelly. He certainly proved why he should be viewed as one of the best QBs in the state. Kelly passed for 406 yards on 21/35 passing and contributed to all of Karr’s six touchdowns. Destyn Pazon also finished with a solid game: finishing with 3 catches for 151 yards, including 2 touchdowns. Looking forward to next week, Edna Karr will recoup, regroup, and be much more focused in their Week 2 matchup against McDonough 35.
When analyzing the Patriot’s performance, one can only tip their hat to the team that played a near error-free game. They performed just how you would expect a nationally ranked team to play. They showed explosiveness, confidence, and poise. Outside of the missed coverages on receivers and the 9 penalties, there is little you can ask for the Patriots to improve on. They got off to a good start, put up six touchdowns, and neutralized Karr’s damage by blocking extra points and stopping 2-point conversions. Although Curtis totaled just 14 passing yards on 4/6 passing, QB Kyle Guggenheim was arguably the MVP of the game. Guggenheim totaled 99 yards on 16 carries, but beautifully set up teammate Corey Wren for 184 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots' option offense was just too much for Karr’s defense, leaving open holes in the defense for Wren much too often. When asked about his big game and his quarterback Kyle Guggenheim, Wren responded, “Those plays don’t happen without Kyle Guggenheim making the right checks, he had a phenomenal game... He’s been under this offense since elementary. He’s a great leader, and he led this team’s offense.”
In response to John Curtis now owning the New Orleans area “bragging rights”, QB Kyle Guggenheim made it clear that beating Karr wasn’t the team’s goal. “Yeah it feels great to beat them. But honestly, the biggest thing is to win a state championship for us. This is a great opening game, to win out here is a great thing for our team... We won’t see them in the playoffs. It’s a good thing to play a good team that early, but for us, the goal is a state championship. And if we don’t win state, then our season is a failure.” Looking to next week, the Patriots continue their quest for an undefeated season when they travel to Shreveport to face Westlake High.
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