U-High powers past Parkview Baptist in championship rematch _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRIANNA PACIORKA -- Parkview Baptist quarterback Reginald Hayes stiff arms a University High defender during a regular-season game Oct. 16.

Parkview Baptist has a tradition that includes four state football championships since 2001. St. Thomas More has come close, but has never played for a state title before.

The teams have never played each other. So theirs is a mystery story that will unfold on Friday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic.

“St. Thomas More is a team we don’t know much about,” Parkview coach Jay Mayet said. “They’ve always played in a higher classification than us. We have a common opponent in Catholic High and that gives us one reference point.

“But I am impressed with what I see. They’re extremely well coached, they don’t take plays off and they don’t loaf. I don’t mind going against a team with talent that doesn’t play hard. I’d much rather good against a team like that instead of one like (STM) that has good solid football players who are well-coached.”

Fourth-seeded PBS (9-3) takes on No. 2 St. Thomas More (10-2) in the Division II title game set for 5 p.m. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Though the teams have never played each other before, there are similarities. Parkview quarterback Reggie Hayes Jr. made note of them.

“When I look at them, it’s a lot like looking at us,” Hayes said. “Only they have more guys than we do.”

The numbers differences are notable. Class 4A STM has over 1,000 students, while Parkview has less than 500. Ultimately, the final numbers on the score will define this story, one the Cougars have longed to be part of.

“This team has shown grit this entire year,” St. Thomas More coach Jim Hightower said. “The one thing that really stands out for me is how well we were practicing in late October and November. This team just kept getting better.”

Parkview also improved after early loses to traditional power John Curtis and Division III finalist Riverside Academy. Both teams avenged district losses to advance last week. STM ousted Teurlings Catholic, while Parkview notched its first win over University High after five tries.

Another factor that stands out for Hightower is Parkview’s Hayes, whose father Reggie Sr. quarterbacked Broadmoor High past St. Thomas More in a playoff game about 25 years ago.

The younger Hayes rolled up 255 all-purpose yards in last week’s win over U-High. He leads the Eagles’ option offense with 1,321 rushing yards on 147 carries with 20 touchdowns. Running backs Kayin White (949 yards, 13 TDs) and Nelson Smith (732 yards, 4 TDs) are other top rushing options.

Quarterback Will Bellamy leads the Cougars with 2,338 passing yards 33 touchdowns. Begue is STM’s top target with 62 catches for 1,171 yards and 17 TDs. Evan Trahan adds 995 rushing yards.

“Depth wise there are some concerns for us,” Parkview’s Mayet said. “They’ve got a bunch of guys on their roster and we’re in a situation where we play people both ways. You never know how that is going to make a difference in a game.”

Will Parkview’s past title-game experience make a difference? The Eagles were the Division II runner-up a year ago.

“It’s hard to say if that will matter,” Mayet said. “We’re going to have to step up our game on special teams. But I think it’s going to come down to who’s more physical.”