John Curtis’ defense flexes its muscle

John Curtis’ defense played stingy Crescent City hosts Thursday afternoon, the way it kept University High out of the end zone during the Division II select state title game.

Not only did Curtis win its 26th state title with a 32-0 rout at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but its defense earned another tidbit: The victory was the program’s sixth title-game shutout and its first since 2001.

“A lot of their games, they put up a lot of points,” Curtis linebacker Kenny Young said. “Bottom line is, we had to come out, make them quit, give in. We did that.”

No. 2 seed U-High (13-0), led by quarterback Manny Miles, receiver D’Vante Dotson and running back Nick Brossette, entered the title game averaging 46.6 points.

The previous 13 games, though, did not serve as an omen against top-seeded Curtis (11-2). While Brossette finished with 27 carries for 127 yards, he was kept out of the end zone. Miles was held to 51 yards on 6-for-16 passing. He also was intercepted once and sacked three times. Dotson finished with four catches for 31 yards.

Such struggles did not fare well for U-High, which took a less-conservative approach on fourth down: The Cubs tried to convert six times and were successful just once.

“I really feel bad about the way we played offensively,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said. “That’s my responsibility. When you’re playing good people, I think the margin for error is really small.”

It started early in the first quarter as Curtis’ Isiah Williams collected his first sack on fourth-and-10 at the Patriots 26, chasing down Miles. It continued midway through the second as Chandler Johnson missed Jake Alexander on fourth-and-1 near midfield, leading to Curtis’ first touchdown. It got even worse on U-High’s ensuing possession when Miles was intercepted on the first play by Hunter Dale, again leading to a Curtis TD.

The third quarter was no easier for U-High. Bad field position placed punter Johnson in a bad position when a deep snap on fourth down bobbled its way to him. Before he could escape, he was tackled by Dontae Jones.

Any chance at a rally ended late in the third as Young forced Miles to throw an errant pass on fourth down, still punishing him with another big hit.

“What can you say about a defense that shuts out a team with that kind of talent?” Curtis coach J.T. Curtis said. “You can never stop an offense like that, but we did a good job of containing it.”

Curtis’ previous title-game shutout was a 30-point win vs. Baker in the 2001 Class 4A game.