RIVER RIDGE — John Curtis was beating Evangel 38-6, which for a program that rarely loses is a big deal. But to Curtis quarterback Patrick Morton, two things were wrong about the situation:
- It was the semifinals, not the championship game of the 2011 Class 2A playoffs.
- Morton, then a junior, wasn’t playing, having suffered a season-ending knee injury several weeks earlier.
“If we’re playing Evangel, it’s supposed to be in the finals,” he said. “It’s just not right anywhere else but in the ’Dome. And I was pretty emotional because I wasn’t able to play. I told myself that I wasn’t going to miss this when I was a senior.”
On Saturday, Morton gets both of his wishes. He’s healthy again, and Curtis (13-0) is meeting Evangel (12-2) for the 2A championship in the LHSAA/State Farm Prep Classic in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“This is the game I’ve looked forward to for my entire high school career,” Morton said. “It’s probably going to be the last game I ever play, too. I don’t know how it could get be any better.”
For Morton and the rest of the Patriots, there would be no better way to claim the 25th state championship in school history than by beating the Eagles, who are about as close to a rival as they have. It’s the fifth time in the past six years that they’ve played for the title, each winning twice.
“I guess this will be the rubber match then,” Evangel headmaster Denny Duron said.
“I just hope it’s not the last one.”
Chances are it won’t be.
Both schools are using the option passed last year by the LHSAA to play up to Class 3A starting in 2013. That probably can’t come soon enough for rest of 2A.
Since 2005, the first year that schools were required to play in the classification their enrollment dictated — a ruling that most took to be directed at Evangel and Curtis, which were dominating 5A and 4A at the time — in playoff games against everyone but each other, the Patriots and Eagles are a combined 66-0. (Evangel was in 1A in 2005 and ’06.)
Curtis has been especially dominant, winning its 34 non-Evangel games by an average margin of 46-7, including a 55-0 drubbing of Springfield in last week’s semifinals.
But that score’s only typical of the most dominant season in Curtis’ illustrious history. The Patriots’ 642 points in 13 games (49.3) are the most in school history. They’ve allowed just 47. Only in the season opener against St. Paul’s, a 26-7 victory, have the Curtis regulars played into the fourth quarter.
Evangel, which is seeking its 14th state title in the past 20 seasons, hasn’t been as dominant, losing this year to Class 5A finalist Barbe (48-47) and 5A quarterfinalist Ouachita (52-27). Last week, the Eagles were extended by University, rallying for a 52-45 victory.
“That was a tough game for us, and Curtis’ starters have to be pretty fresh,” Evangel coach Phillip Deas said. “But maybe it’s an advantage for us to have been tested like we were.”
Curtis senior cornerback Richard Allen has attended the school since pre-kindergarten and has seen the Patriots advance to the championship game every year. The streak is actually 17.
“When you go to Curtis, you expect to finish every season in the ’Dome winning another championship,” said Allen, a Tulane commitment.
At Evangel, this is 16 title games in 20 years, including four times when the Eagles won championships in Class 5A playing with a 1A-level enrollment.