GONZALES — Friday brought Louisiana high school football one step closer to crowning its first 7v7 state champion as 29 teams from around the state competed at the Adidas 7v7 Louisiana State Championship at East Ascension’s Spartan Stadium.

About 600 players, mostly from the southern part of the state, showed up to play a nonpadded, all-skill position version of football hosted by Florida-based Airo Sports Management as part of a national program to set up state tournaments.

“(Airo) reached out to us and it was a no-brainer for the (Louisiana Football Coaches Association) to endorse it,” said LFCA President and Franklinton coach Shane Smith. “Any time you can get a healthy competition, footballs flying around, Adidas on board providing gear for these kids — I haven’t seen anybody hanging their heads.”

Lutcher, QB Kirklin shine

Lutcher put together one of the most impressive performances of the opening day as one of four teams to post a flawless record.

The Bulldogs outscored opponents 107-45, including a 22-3 thrashing of rival East Ascension after quarterback Jontre Kirklin orchestrated a strong passing assault.

“It’s just like last year, as (Kirklin) goes, we go,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “I do believe the most depth we have on our football team is our skill positions, and that started to show.”

While Detillier said he was happy to just have a strong showing, Kirklin said it was nice to get a win against the Spartans after a 48-21 loss last season — even if it was only an offseason tournament.

“It’s a rivalry,” Kirkland said. “We know everybody on the team. It’s a competitive game.”

Landry-Walker, West St. John and Port Allen also finished the day with a 4-0 record. West St. John will be the No. 1 seed heading into Saturday’s bracket play after leading the group with 118 points.

EA’s Irvin back on field

Eight months later having his junior season cut short by injury, East Ascension quarterback Kyran Irvin was back on the field leading the Spartans offense and feeling better than he’s ever felt going into a season.

It took two games for Irvin to finally get back into the swing of play, as the Spartans lost to Lutcher and Covington by a combined score of 40-6. But the senior bounced back later in the third game to give East Ascension a 24-2 win against H.L. Bourgeois before losing to Franklinton 21-12 in the final outing of pool play.

“I actually feel better than I felt last year,” Irvin said. “Last year was my first year starting, so I didn’t really know the offense. Now, I’m a senior and I know the offense and I’m more comfortable.”

LSU commit impresses

Several receivers came down with impressive catches during the pass-heavy day, but none more so than St. Augustine’s Jamal Pettigrew. A four-star tight end and LSU commitment, the 6-foot-6 Pettigrew made a stunning one-handed catch while falling backward into double coverage, barely keeping his feet in bounds in the process for a touchdown against John Ehret.

The score helped the Purple Knights to their largest win of the day, a 28-14 victory against John Ehret. St. Augustine finished the day 3-1.

“Usually I’m not worried about the spectacular catches, I’m just worried about the ones I drop,” Pettigrew said. “I had a couple (of drops) and I just have to keep on improving and catch everything that’s thrown my way.”