“To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”
Wrestler Hall of Famer Rick Flair gave this message to Ricky Steamboat before their epic world championship match in the 1980s.
Nearly three decades later, Flair’s flair is fitting for Friday night’s District 9-4A showdown between a bruised, former champion (Edna Karr) and a top contender (Landry-Walker), eager to claim the New Orleans high school football crown.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Berham Stadium.
It appears the Cougars have studied Flair’s swag.
“It’s not just about playing our rivalry,” said Karr’s Devin Jackson, a senior left tackle who is committed to UL-Monroe. “It’s about beating them and getting ready for district.”
What did you expect? The schools are walking distance from each other in Algiers, with family and friends pleading varying allegiances.
This may mark Landry-Walker’s latest, best chance to beat the Cougars (2-2), which also means it has yet to occur. These two teams played twice last season, with Karr emerging for a 26-22 district victory after trailing by nine in the fourth quarter, then dominating 29-0 in a Class 4A semifinal.
“There’s nothing about them that has impressed me,” said Karr receiver Fredrick Jordan, who this season has caught two touchdown passes. “We’re going to beat them Friday.”
Just as fast as Jordan made his sharp statement, he reconsidered: “They’re a physical team. We just have to be more physical.”
Asked to explain the impact of beating the Cougars, Landry-Walker defensive tackle George Lea said, “It would feel like we’ve accomplished something.”
Karr, the 2012 Class 4A state champions and three-time state runner-up in recent seasons, lost 34 seniors after last fall, forcing a youth movement, which includes quarterback Aldon Clark, a sophomore. Karr’s offense is averaging 31 points.
But the Cougars have stumbled to start this fall, losing to St. Paul’s, beating St. Augustine, losing to John Curtis, then beating Helen Cox 52-34 last week. Clark account for three scores (two passing, one running) in that game.
For Landry, Walker, the Buccaneers (4-1), led by quarterback Li’Jon Cordier, lost 45-39 to Hahnville in September, their lone falter of 2014. Last week, they may have been anticipating Friday’s showdown too early, leading to a second-half stumble against McKinley before winning 21-20. Tevin Bush scored on an 80-yard kickoff return and 65-yard run.
Landry-Walker is averaging 39 points per game.
“It’s been a little rough,” Lea said, not content with just winning. “We always start of lazy, then we start to pick it up after halftime. But we have to set the tone early.”