John Curtis came in ranked No. 1 in The New Orleans Small School Super 10 and will most certainly stay there.
The Patriots, ranked No. 2 in the LSWA state poll, blanked De La Salle 35-0 to improve to 7-1 and 3-0 in District 11-3A. Curtis dominated on both sides the ball from kickoff to the final whistle.
Coach J.T. Curtis said he was pleased with his team’s play in his 600th game coached.
“The team played hard today and I was really proud of their effort early on,” Curtis said. “We executed our game plan and put points up on consecutive drives. We got a little relaxed toward the end of the first half, but we got back on track.”
De La Salle fell to 6-3, 1-2.
“I’m really disappointed in our team’s performance, but we have to take our hats off to Curtis,” De La Salle coach Ryan Manale said. “We had a game plan that we wanted to stick to, but unfortunately that wasn’t possible. I have to get with my coaches and see what went wrong. We will learn from this loss and get better.”
Curtis stormed into halftime with a 21-point cushion, thanks to a potent rushing attack. The Patriots’ ballcarriers were right on cue, posting runs of 36, 57, 41 and 55 yards to help wear down the Cavaliers defense.
Quarterback Myles Washington punched in two touchdowns in the second quarter to help tighten the first half grip on the scoreboard and clock.
“We got a chance to play a lot of players and were able to get some kids the needed experience,” Curtis said. “The seniors know what we expect and it rubbed off on our other players. Defensively, we were able to limit their quarterback (Victor Gaines) from making big plays. He is an awesome athlete and he really gashed us during the first half. The coaches made the correct adjustments to slow him down.”
The Cavaliers had their moments late in the first half, but a crucial fumble by Cole Lewis ended any hopes of closing the three-touchdown gap. Gaines rushed for 50 yards on 16 attempts in the first half.
“This game got away form us,” Gaines said. “It hurts to lose, but I think we gave our all out there today. I tried to put my team in good positions as their leader, but we came up short when it counted. I was a little banged up out there, but it didn’t affect my play. The other team just took care of business.”
The Patriots outgained the Cavaliers 387 to 207 in total yards. Junior Devon Benn added to his stellar season totals with a 114-yard rushing performance.
Benn scored the game’s first points on a 57-yard sprint with 5:54 left in the first quarter.
Washington then led the Patriots on back-to-back scoring drives. His touchdown runs of 2 and 9 yards put the Patriots up comfortably 21-0.
Running back Dontae Jones pounded the ball for 136 yards on the ground to lead all ball carriers. Jones’ 55-yard touchdown with 7:22 left in the third quarter to put the game out of reach for the Cavaliers.
Senior tailback Cole Lewis couldn’t find much room against the opposing defense. He finished the game with 20 yards on 12 carries. Ricco Wheat added 30 yards on three carries in mop-up duty during the game’s final drive.
Early scoring drives by the Patriots forced De La Salle to change its game plan and become pass-heavy.
“We had early mistakes that forced us to rethink our planning. Giving up those long runs when we were ahead in the down and distance really took its toll,” Manale said.
Gaines completed 12 of 23 passes for 120 yards.
Back-up quarterback Brock Hebert scored the final points on a 1-yard run for the Patriots. The Patriots forced four turnovers, including interceptions by seniors Hunter Dale and Dorian Rodrigue.