A year after pulling out all the stops to upset second-seeded John Curtis, Catholic High could not find a way to stop the Patriots.
Top-seeded Curtis executed its game plan to near perfection and scored 35 unanswered points in a 49-7 victory over Catholic in the Division I title game that kicked off Saturday’s action at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic.
The Patriots option offense provided a mix of long drives and big plays while piling up 443 yards rushing, nearly double Catholic’s total of 231 yards of total offense.
“I certainly can’t say I saw it coming,” Catholic coach Gabe Fertitta said. “We had a great two weeks of practice, and I thought we had a great game plan on offense and defense. I thought our coaches did a phenomenal job of getting our kids prepared. It just wasn’t our day.”
Curtis’ title-game MVP Collin Guggenheim rushed for 160 yards on 28 carries and orchestrated the Patriots’ signature option that hit all the high notes with an effort that included a 17-play TD drive and rushing TDs of 80 and 61 yards in the game played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Curtis defense also contributed two interceptions, one of which Donald Clay turned into a 60-yard return for a TD.
Can't see video below? Click here.
With the victory, the Patriots (13-0) avenge the 20-14 title-game loss in 2017 and claimed their first LHSAA title since 2014. Curtis now has 27 LHSAA titles. The effort impressed Curtis coach J.T. Curtis, who has a 583-64-6 record in 50 seasons.
“If you had told me at 11:59 we could win by a point, I would have taken it,” the 72-year-old Curtis said. “You’ve got to be pleased when you can play that kind of defense and control the line of scrimmage the way we did against a team like Catholic, who as you know scored a lot of points all year long.”
Corey Wren added 111 yards on five carries and scored two TDs for Curtis. Joshua Parker led Catholic with 61 yards on 11 carries and scored two TDs. The Bears' Cameron Dartez completed 13 of 27 passes for 106 yards. Safety Beau Bacas had 11 total tackles and was the title-game MVP for second-seeded Catholic (11-2).
The Patriots took the opening kickoff and drove 81 yards with 11 straight running plays. The biggest one was the last one — a 20-yard TD run by Ma’Khi Smith with 6:41 left in the first quarter.
Moments later, Dante Thomas intercepted a Dartez pass and returned it to the CHS 10. Wren took an option pitch from Guggenheim on the first play and scored to make it 14-0.
The Bears bounced back with a nine-play, 78-yard drive. A 32-yard pass from Dartez to Greg Martin set up a 1-yard TD run by Parker. It was a 14-7 game with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
Curtis added another TD 13 seconds later. Guggenheim’s perfect option pitch to Wren turned into an 80-yard TD run. It was 21-7.
“We wanted to get a stop on first down,” Fertitta said. “We wanted to get them in a down and distance where they were not comfortable. We could never get them into that.”
Catholic got the ball first in the third quarter but could not muster a first down. The Bears won the battle of field position in its 2017 win over Curtis. Their average starting point for a drive was their 18 this time. Catholic converted just 2 of 11 third downs.
The Patriots added two more TDs in the third quarter that epitomized the game. A 17-play, 82-yard drive ended with Choncee Crum scoring on a 4-yard run to make it 28-7 with 2:44 to go. Next came a 60-yard interception return by Clay that upped the lead to 36-8 with 17 seconds remaining in the quarter.
“The season was great except for today,” Parker said. “John Curtis had a great day, us not so much.”