This was not how things are supposed to go in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome come state championship time.
John Curtis is not supposed to be the disappointed first team into the news conference after coming up short.
But that was the case late Friday night when the 26-time state champion Patriots fell to No. 6 seed Jesuit 17-14 in the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Division I select state title game.
“Congratulations go out to Jesuit,” coach J.T. Curtis said. “I thought they played extremely well. They are a very physical ballclub that plays very hard. They were highly motivated, and rightly so. I just thought it was just a great high school football game. This is what a high school championship game should really be about — two teams that left it out all on the field — and you can’t ask for more than that in a game of this magnitude.”
For only the ninth time in 35 appearances, the Patriots went home with the state runner-up trophy instead of the championship crown. The last time it happened was in 2010, when the Patriots lost their second consecutive Class 2A title game to Evangel.
Normally fundamentally sound, the Patriots (11-2) had several key mistakes in pivotal points. Curtis had four fumbles and lost two of them, including one late in the fourth quarter while driving for what it hoped would be the game-winning touchdown.
The Patriots also had 10 penalties for 85 yards. J.T. Curtis pointed to one person to blame for his team’s mistakes.
“Me,” he said. “Point to me. I have to get that cleaned up. That is my responsibility. We need to do a better job of ball control and preventing penalties, and that starts and ends with me. We will work on that to get better at it next year. I’m disappointed we didn’t do it better in the game, but again the only guy looking back in the mirror when I say that is me. I take responsibility for coaching better and making sure we emphasize it in the future.”
Saying goodbye to 16 seniors who are used to ending their careers as state champions, Curtis said his Class of 2015 is still one that will be missed.
“I only have 16 of them,” he said. “But I have 16 guys that are committed and 16 guys that worked as hard as any guys that I have ever had. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I know they are disappointed, just as I am, but there were only two teams that got to play for this honor tonight. There are a lot of people that wish they were sitting where we are.
“We have to recognize that the sun is going to come up tomorrow. All of our players are going to have a bright future. That is what we play this game so intently for.”