Successful outcomes are routine with the John Curtis High School football team, and that success is a byproduct of two sharply focused goals.
Honing the process includes scheduling opponents like this week’s challenge, Texas’ Class 5A power Lufkin.
“Everything we do is geared to those two goals: Let’s get into our district, then let’s play well,” coach J.T. Curtis said. “Then, let’s get into the playoffs and see if we can create an opportunity to make a run at the (state) championship.”
Curtis, the No. 1 team in both The New Orleans Advocate’s Super 10 Small School rankings and the LSWA’s 3A rankings, meets Lufkin at 2 p.m. Saturday in Shreveport. Lufkin (2-0) is ranked No.2 in The Associated Press’ Texas 5A poll.
Louisiana prep powers Neville, Acadiana, Byrd, Parkway and St. Thomas Moore will also represent the state in the Battle on the Border to be played over two days in Independence Stadium. Teams from Texas and Arkansas will also play.
“It’ll be a great challenge,” said Curtis, whose team opened its season with a 14-0 win over Class 5A Mandeville. “(Lufkin) has been state champions in the past and they play at a high level. They’re obviously a good team.”
Lufkin defeated Longview 44-14 and Tyler Lee 43-19 in its first two games.
The Patriots lost 25 seniors off last season’s state championship team, J.T. Curtis’ 26th title. The development of 11 new starters continues for the River Ridge school as they tackle an opening schedule spiced with successful teams from higher classifications. East St. John, Karr and St. Augustine follow on the predistrict schedule.
“We’ve always had the philosophy we want to play the best teams possible,” Curtis said. “They are all teams that possess athleticism. They have speed. They have size. They each give your kids an idea of what it takes to get better and better.
“A couple of things are going to happen,” he said. “Number one, our kids are going to respond to the competition and learn what it means to play at that level.
“Number two, you are going to expose weaknesses that you maybe didn’t think were there. Then you’re going to be able to correct those weaknesses and (those corrections) are going to serve you better as the season progresses.”
Lufkin’s offense is triggered by quarterback Trey Cumbie, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior who accounted for more than 3,100 yards (2,738 passing) and 33 touchdowns as a junior. Receivers KeKe Coutee and Terry Mack will likely will play for FBS colleges.
In the Panthers’ win over Lee, running back Steven Sowell rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns and had three catches for 35 yards. He accounted for more than 1,500 yards last season and scored 13 times.
Curtis described Lufkin as “very physical on defense and that will give us an opportunity to develop our offensive line.
“They are a throwing team, which we’re going to face as we go through the rest of the season.”