Karr, St. Aug live up to pregame hype

Fans, many who started lining up outside Tad Gormley Stadium a little after 5 p.m. Friday, spent $10 to get inside.

That’s about 10 bucks cheaper than what they probably should’ve been charged to watch this one.

The much-anticipated Karr and St. Augustine battle lived up to the hype and will likely be talked about for years to come around New Orleans.

Heck, the bands alone were worth the admission price.

But the stars on the field — and boy were there plenty of them — gave the fans more than their money’s worth.

Karr won 33-24 in a battle of teams ranked first and second in The New Orleans Advocate’s large school rankings.

The game featured 10 players who have already committed to play on Saturdays at Division I schools. Three other players who have yet to commit (St. Aug running back Leonard Fournette, Karr athlete Speedy Noil and DE Gerald Willis) can go to any college in the country they choose.

Fournette, Noils and Willis are ranked the first, sixth and 29th best players in the country by ESPN.

Fournette owned the first half. Noil the second.

“It’s not about how you start, but how you finish,” said Noil.

Noil threw a pair of touchdowns and ran for two more, helping the Cougars erase a 24-14 second-half deficit.

Sixth best player in the nation? Not according to his coach.

“I think Speedy is the best doggone player in the country as far as an offensive weapon,” said first-year Karr coach Nathaniel Jones. “Leonard Fournette is probably the best tailback in the country. That’s what we expect from Speedy, and our guys did a great job.”

The first half was all about Fournette. He is considered the nation’s No. 1 running back, but he showed Friday that he could do a little more.

Well, actually, a lot more.

He completed 3 of 5 passes for 83 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown pass.

He also caught three passes for 83 yards, including a screen pass that he somehow outraced the defense for a 91-yard TD. He rushed for 84 yards and broke up a pass on fourth down when Karr, surprisingly, tried to fake a punt.

There were plenty of more stars.

St. Aug defensive back Jermaine Roberts, a Texas commit, made one of the biggest plays, picking off a pass in the end zone that would’ve cut Karr’s deficit to 24-21.

For a minute, it looked like it just might be the dagger.

“We had them on the ropes,” said St. Aug coach Cyril Crutchfield.

But the Cougars, who pushed their winning streak to 16 straight, never gave up.

Jones wouldn’t let them.

“I kept telling them we were just two plays away, two plays away,” said Jones.

Noil delivered, with some help from one of the guys who wasn’t among the highly recruited players. Well, he isn’t a star yet.

He connected with Kenneth Simmons, a 5-foot-5, 155 sophomore, for a 42-yard touchdown that brought the Karr fans to life.

With the two teams being in different classifications this year, there’s no chance for a postseason rematch.

But don’t be surprised if both teams make their way to the Superdome in December.

Willis, Karr’s star defensive end, is pretty sure the Cougars will be there.

“Karr is going undefeated,” said Willis. “We aren’t losing to Curtis or anybody. We’re going to win the state championship.”

Jones wasn’t guaranteeing a state championship for his team, but he likes the chances of the team his team defeated winning one.

“If (St. Aug) stays focused, they will win a state championship,” Jones predicted.

“They are a great team and we were just fortunate to be on top. It was a great game and it lived up to the billing.”

Indeed it did.