Warren Easton quarterback Tyriek Starks spent all season long showing that he was more than capable of filling the giant footsteps of 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year Deshawn Capers-Smith.
Starks put the exclamation point on his senior season on Sunday at Tad Gormley Stadium.
The senior threw three first-half touchdowns to lead Orleans Parish to a 31-3 rout over Jefferson Parish in the Lake Ponchartrain All-Star Classic.
“Tonight was my last time wearing this helmet and playing at this level, so I had to make it special,” Starks said. “These are the best group of guys I ever played with, and it was an honor to play my last game with them. We worked real hard all week, and we came out and produced.”
Starks, who led Warren Easton to the Class 4A semifinals, finished with 252 yards passing.
He completed a majority of those passes to district rival receivers Toreano Minor and Sidney Wilson, both of McDonogh 35. Minor and Wilson finished with 86 and 34 yards receiving, respectively.
“Those guys are like my family when we are not playing against each other, so it was fun” Starks said. “We give each other a hard time, but we made it count tonight.”
Both teams started extremely flat on offense, committing back-to-back turnovers in the opening minutes. Jefferson Parish running back Trey Green of Belle Chasse fumbled the opening kickoff, giving Orleans the ball inside the 20-yard line.
Orleans struggled to find rhythm and came away empty-handed. They would get a second chance after Jefferson Parish botched a punt attempt on their ensuing possession. The turnover once again set up Orleans inside the 20-yard line.
This time they got it right as Starks found Darnell Williams (McMain) for a 16-yard touchdown to go ahead 7-0 in the first quarter. The duo connected again from almost the same spot, this time from 14 yards away, extending the lead to 14-0 with 2:03 left in the first quarter.
“Tonight we played with a passion that I haven’t seen in past years in this game,” Orleans coach Wayne Reese of McDonogh 35 said. “I was impressed with the way we practiced all week and what we did tonight. The players came out and took care of business and had fun while doing it. I couldn’t have been happier for these kids.”
Jefferson Parish quarterbacks Coley Ransaw (West Jefferson) and Christian Smith (Riverdale) combined for just 113 yards through the air in an effort to help dig their team out of an early hole. Unfortunately for Jefferson, Ransaw went out of action with an arm injury in the first half, leaving Smith to shoulder the load.
Smith led Jefferson down the field into Orleans territory for the first time late in the second quarter. His pass was picked off by Lusher’s Ryan Theyard and returned for an Orleans core.
Jefferson’s only score came on Helen Cox kicker Dwight Dorsey’s 32-yard field goal.
Orleans snapped a three-game winning streak by Jefferson Parish.
“We had some tough breaks tonight and never really got things going,” said Haynes Academy coach Paul Longo, who coached the Jefferson Parish squad. “We just had a tough night early on and never really recovered. We worked really hard all week, but it just didn’t show tonight.”
The teams were constructed of seniors from both parishes, and Jefferson featured a handful of players from Plaquemines and St. Benard parishes. This was the 17th year of the Orleans vs. Jefferson Classic.
Cyron Sutton of Lake Area also caught a touchdown from Starks that extended the lead to 25-3 before halftime. Sutton finished his night with four catches for 54 yards and one touchdown.
McDonogh 35 running back Darius May tacked on a 14-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach.
Warren Easton linebacker Pernell Jefferson, who is committed to Oklahoma, recorded five tackles, a sack and an interception for Orleans.
Belle Chasse’s Green rushed for 63 yard on 14 carries after overcoming two early fumbles. He also amassed 98 yards in kickoff return yardage.