The most talented team and the best offensive team are not always one in the same. Put the two together for one big high school football game in Louisiana and what do you get?
Top-seeded University vs. No. 3 St. Thomas More in the Division II select title game Friday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic.
“I don’t think there has been a team that has done some of the things they’ve done on offense,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said of STM. “They average 60 points a game, and they have scored points against a lot of teams. They will be a different kind of challenge for us.”
Of course, STM coach Jim Hightower said the same things about U-High, going into the game set for 3:30 p.m. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. U-High seeks its second straight Division II title and its 26th straight victory.
“They are just so good and not just at one or two positions,” Hightower said. “U-High is talented all the way across the board. When you scout a team, you look to find a weakness somewhere. You look at them, and it is hard to find anything. There is a reason why they have won 24 in a row.”
The top-seeded Cubs (12-0) have six players set to sign with Power 5 conferences led by recent Alabama commitment Christian Harris, who plays receiver, returns kicks and is a safety on defense. UHS also has plenty of notable numbers.
Running back Mike Hollins, a Virginia commitment, has 1,408 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns. John Gordon McKernan has completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,598 yards and 24 TDs. Harris is the top receiver with 24 catches for 508 yards and five TDs to go with three kick returns for TDs.
Mahaffey sees St. Thomas More with a depth advantage because of its 100-player roster in grades 10-12. The Cougars and their quarterback Caleb Holstein have some notable numbers also.
Holstein has passed for 3,448 yards and 35 TDs. Will Cryer adds 1,330 yards rushing and 20 TDs, while Deion Senegal is the top receiver with 47 catches for 945 yards. Junior lineman Jaquelin Roy (LSU commitment) and senior linebacker Bryton Constantin (Clemson commitment) help lead a balanced UHS defense.
“The big challenge for us will be keeping our quarterback upright,” STM’s Hightower said. “U-High’s defense is good at every level, and they put so much pressure on with their front seven guys. We can’t turn the ball over or give them anything easy. We need to make them drive the ball and earn whatever they get.”
Aside from worries about depth, Mahaffey said his team remains as focused as ever.
“This group of seniors has really done a good job of working to get better each week,” Mahaffey said. “This is the game they have been working for.”