It’s probably safe to say that J.T. Curtis has his John Curtis Patriots ready for playoff time.
John Curtis, one week away from beginning the Division I playoffs as the No. 1 seed, cruised to a 49-18 win over district-foe McMain on Thursday night at Muss Bertolino Stadium.
The Patriots (8-1, 4-0) racked up 327 rushing yards on the night and, for the most part, dominated the game from the opening whistle.
“I was pleased with the way we performed on both sides of the ball,” Curtis said. “They have a lot of skilled players and I thought we did a nice job of containing them. I was pleased with the way we moved the ball running and passing, as well. We’re getting much better at that.”
Curtis jumped on the Mustangs early, utilizing a long return on the opening kickoff to assist an opening drive that only lasted three plays before running back Devon Benn scored a 4-yard TD to give Curtis its first points of the night.
After an interception by Patriots linebacker Terron Cherry on the ensuing drive, Curtis only needed two plays before quarterback Myles Washington hit wide receiver Jacob Bordelon with a perfectly placed fade route for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Curtis led 14-0 two minutes into the game.
Curtis said he wanted to prepare Washington to play both running back and quarterback once the playoffs started and it paid immediate dividends. Washington finished the game completing 3-of-7 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown and added eight carries for 153 yards and another score.
“That’s something we want to work with and continue to work with into the playoffs,” Curtis said. “It gives us an extra dimension and we think it will be very effective for us.”
Washington added, “Running back is my main spot, so it’s an easy transition for me. I just want to do whatever the team needs to win.”
After McMain (6-4, 1-3) turned the ball over on downs on its next drive, Curtis went with the methodical running approach that it has come to be known for over the years. The Patriots went on a 10-play, 79-yard drive, which was capped by a 6-yard TD run by Benn — his second of the first half.
Curtis, ranked No. 1 in The New Orleans Advocate Small School Super 10 and No. 2 in Class 3A, held a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“We came out and played a great team game, and great team games like this equal championships,” Washington said.
McMain responded to the Patriots’ touchdown by putting together its best drive of the game. The Mustangs marched 73 yards in 13 plays, capped by a 9-yard touchdown throw from Darnell Williams to James Howard. After missing the extra point, Curtis led 21-6.
Williams finished 18-of-29 for 259 passing yards with two TDs and two interceptions and added 12 carries for 95 yards and an additional score. Howard added nine catches for 154 yards and two TDs.
“Even though we were down, we kept fighting,” Howard said. “Me and Darnell work hard everyday at practice and we just try to keep improving day by day.”
After the Mustangs’ scoring drive, the Curtis offense continued to roll. The Patriots took the ensuing drive 60 yards in eight plays before backup quarterback Brock Hebert connected with Bordelon for a 4-yard touchdown pass — his second receiving TD of the first half.
After defensive back Hunter Dale hauled in the second Patriots’ interception of the first half on the following possession, runs of 37 and 33 yards by Washington and running back Santos Moreira, respectively, put Curtis in prime scoring position.Hebert completed his second short TD of the half to Kerry Buckley on a 2-yard fade pass, giving Curtis a 35-6 lead.
“They’ve got good players and they made plays but our guys did a good job of responding,” Curtis said. “They ended up making more plays than we would have liked, but we can improve on that going forward.”
The Patriots, who will be playing up in classification when the playoffs begin next week, will most likely be the No. 1 seed in the Division I bracket, which will be released Sunday.