With the District 9-5A championship already clinched, John Curtis' game against Shaw on Saturday at Hoss Memtsas Stadium was much like a coronation.
The Patriots, ranked No. 2 in Class 5A by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, jumped on the Eagles early, literally and figuratively.
In a game with an 11 a.m. start, Curtis predictably pushed aside overmatched Shaw to an insurmountable first-quarter lead, then cruised to a 35-0 victory.
The Patriots (9-1, 6-0), whose only loss this season was to Grayson (Georgia) on the second week of the season, are now squarely focused on the first round of the playoffs and pursuing a 27th state championship under coach J.T. Curtis.
“(The state playoff seedings) have been so back and forth, we don't know who we'll play in the first round,” Curtis said. “It could be anyone among three or four teams.
“But I like that our offense has balance, and we were able to play a lot of kids today. We got our backup quarterback (Donell Jones) some work. We made need him in case of an injury.”
Shaw (0-10, 0-6) went winless in district for the second consecutive year. Yet, with the split playoff system of select and nonselect teams, just like last season, they are in the postseason. The Eagles last won a 9-5A game Oct. 15, 2015, against St. Augustine.
Second-year Eagles coach Tommy Connor was visibly frustrated after the game.
“Curtis is a good team; they ran the table in the Catholic League,” Connor said. “I'm excited to see who we get (in the playoffs). I'm excited to prepare for another game. I'm excited for another opportunity to get better.
“We knew all week Curtis takes advantage of mistakes you make. We prepared, but we let them take advantage of the mistakes we made.”
The Patriots were intent on making quick work of the Eagles, taking a 28-0 lead by 3:46 of the first quarter. After that, Curtis substituted librally.
The Patriots led 21-0 by the 7:25 mark. Curtis began at its 35 with the game's first possession. Five plays later, quarterback Colin Guggenheim threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to tight end No. 81, who was behind the Shaw secondary running down the left side.
The Patriots were all over the Eagles' short passing game, forcing a three-and-out and getting the ball at the 50. On first down, The Guggenheim completed a 23-yard pass to Tyrone Legette to the Shaw 27. Three plays later, Guggenheim scored on an 8-yard keeper off right guard at 7:45 of the first for a 14-0 lead.
It didn't take long for Curtis to increase the lead to three touchdowns. After ensuing kickoff, Shaw had the ball at its 14. Two plays later, quarterback Tyler Nichol attempted a screen pass. Curtis linebacker Jayden Barfield stepped in front of the pass and scored on a 7-yard return at 7:36.
The Patriots' next possession, after a punt, began at its 39. Guggenheim passed 17 yards to Andres Pierce, and on the next play, sophomore reserve Corey Wren, listed as an athlete on the roster, swept right end and ran 49 yards for a touchdown.
The second quarter resembled a scrimmage between the Patriots' backups and the Eagles, with no score. With the head coaches agreeing to running time for the second half, Curtis didn't score again until its first series of the fourth quarter, with its starters back in for one possession. Guggenheim capped a 69-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown to Legette at the 10:05 mark. Then, it was reserve time again.