A district championship may not be at stake, but everything else is.
Bragging rights, pride and momentum heading into the Class 4A state playoffs — everything is on the line when Karr and McDonogh 35 face off at 7 p.m. Thursday in a District 9-4A battle at Tad Gormley Stadium.
“We want to be able to have that feeling that we beat Karr,” senior Roneagles quarterback Sidney Wilson said. “The last few years, they’ve won. We want to have that feeling and be able to brag until next season comes. We want to give everybody that feeling that we can really do this. Once we’ve realized that, we can be great. I don’t think we’re there yet, but this week we can get our team that edge we really need.”
“We’ve still got a lot of obstacles,” Cougars senior cornerback Leonte Harris countered. “We can’t let all the hype get to us. We’re the same, original Karr, and we need to come out and get the ‘W.’ We’ve still got a lot to prove. We’ve got to get our fan base back. People are doubting us. After the win, they’ll come back.”
First and foremost, the question is who will be at quarterback for the Cougars (4-3, 4-1).
Junior quarterback Aldon Clark missed last week’s game against Easton after bruising his right ankle. Sophomore Skylar Perry made his first career start and threw a pair of interceptions in a 40-14 loss.
Clark returned to practice this week and was to be evaluated after Wednesday’s practice by the medical staff and the quarterbacks coach. Again, he’ll be a game-time decision.
Clark is not the only injury Karr is dealing with. Eight starters have been lost at different times this season, including receiver Romoad Jefferson (torn ACL), defensive end Mark Byous (broken foot), left tackle Anthony Lalone (torn ligament) and running back Santee Marshall (shoulder), all of whom are out for the year.
This week alone, receivers Tyrin Ralph (collarbone) and Rayce McMath (turf toe) are questionable.
“Every blue moon, you have these types of seasons when the injury bug hits and hits you hard,” Karr coach Brice Brown said. “At the staff meeting, we joke that we can’t lose another receiver or offensive linemen.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” wide receiver Diamante Woolridge said. “At Karr, we believe in next man up. I’ve been very impressed.”
The McDonogh 35 defense has stood tall regardless of the competition for much of the season.
A rock-solid front four complemented by an opportunistic secondary has limited opponents to fewer than 13 points per game. Last week, the Roneagles (8-1, 4-1) posted their second shutout of the season at Amite in a 36-0 statement win.
Whether it’s Clark or Perry, the defense will be up to the challenge.
“We’re going to get after them either way,” senior defensive tackle Stephon Taylor said. “We’re going to throw a lot at him that night. Even if it’s the starting quarterback, he’s going to get everything we’ve got.”