KENNER — It’s December. Which means presents mistletoe and dreaming about Santa?
And John Curtis in yet another state championship game.
The Patriots from River Ridge made it 17 in a row Friday with by overwhelming Springfield, 55-0 in their Class 2A semifinal at Muss Bertolino Playground.
Awaiting them at 1 p.m. next Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will be a familiar foe, Evangel Christian of Shreveport, which rallied for a with a 52-45 victory against University High.
“This is our goal every year,” Curtis senior tackle Brandon Godfrey said. “That’s what we work for all spring, all summer and all fall.
“I know everybody else says that. But we make it because we’re used to it.”
Saturday’s championship game will be Curtis’ 31st, and the Patriots (13-0) have won 24 of them.
But Evangel owns two of those victories against Curtis, in the 2009 and 2010 titles games. And even though the Patriots gained a measure of revenge last year by beating the Eagles in the semifinals, it’s not like beating a rival in the ’Dome.
“That’s who we wanted,” Godfrey, a Tulane commitment said. “They took my first two titles away from me.”
And regardless of what happens Saturday, this will be the final Class 2A title game for both Curtis and Evangel, unless the LHSAA decides to revert having schools play in the classification their enrollment dictates.
Both the Patriots and Eagles are opting to move up to 3A next year.
And that can’t come a moment too soon for the rest of 2A.
Their supposed peer schools just can’t stay with the juggernauts. Case in point was Springfield on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (12-2), making the deepest playoff run in school history, had justified their No. 4 seeding by beating Northeast, Northlake Christian and Many.
But on Friday, they had no chance against the bigger, deeper and faster Patriots. Even the rosters were lopsided – 32 players for Springfield vs. 101 for Curtis.
How dominant was it?
At one point, Curtis had run 13 plays from scrimmage and led 35-0. Want another?
In the first half, which ended with Curtis leading 42-0, just one play was run on the Patriots’ side of the field.
That was the first play from scrimmage, which saw Tevin Horton gain 10 yards to cross midfield.
Five plays later, Raekwon Jones followed the blocks of tackle Anthony Taylor and guard Matthew Grabert around the right side for the final 15 yards, and the rout was on.
“It’s hard for any true public school deal with a program like this,” Springfield coach Ryan Serpas said. “We fought hard all season long and we fought tonight.
“Our kids have nothing to hang their heads about. It is what it is.”
Springfield didn’t help its cause in the half by losing three fumbles all of which converted into touchdowns.
The first came after Kimanae Claiborne’s end zone interception,
But on the next play, the Bulldogs’ Joseph Kemp fumbled it back at the 19.
And on the play after that, Sherman Badie swept the right side for the TD.
Curtis’ other first-half touchdowns were by Badie on a 46-yard run, Malachi Dupre on a 36-yard pass from Patrick Morton, Horton on a 28-yard run and George Moreira on a 23-yard pass from Abby Touzet.
Springfield finally did cross midfield with 4:56 left in the third quarter. But after the Bulldogs’ reached the 42, Jacolby Cooper intercepted for the Patriots, and Curtis converted that turnover into Devin Benn’s 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Curtis would add one more TD, meaning the Patriots have outscored their four playoff foes 231-16. That was after rolling up a 421-50 advantage in nine regular-season games.
For Curtis coach J.T. Curtis, who now has 174 playoff victories out of the 518 in his career, it comes from taking nothing for granted.
“This is part of the tradition of how these kids have grown up,” he said. “But what gets lost in that is the people think it automatically happens.
“The effort and the time they put in and the commitment of the coaches is what the general public doesn’t see.
“I couldn’t be prouder because it’s not easy to do what they’ve done.”
But equally proud Friday was Springfield’s senior quarterback Shaquille Smith
“We’re not satisfied with the way this game came out tonight, but we’re satisfied with our season,” he said after first thanking the Bulldog fans for their support. “We’re the first Springfield team to make it to the semifinals and we got knocked off by the No. 2 team in nation.
“We played them as well as we could.”
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