Time will tell whether the Edna Karr football team has the goods to hoist another state championship trophy this fall.
But the skill-position players who represented the school Saturday at the annual LSU 7-on-7 tournament made a strong case, going unbeaten in their five games and upending L.B. Landry/O. Perry Walker to win the big-schools championship.
Top recruits Speedy Noil, Donnie Jones, Juwan Offray, Quanta Moore and Anthony Jones were among the players who participated for Karr, which beat Neville in the Class 4A championship game last season after finishing as state runner-up the previous two years.
In the day’s other final, Carver beat Mobile (Ala.) Christian to win the small-schools bracket.
“Every time we come out and compete, we want to win,” Karr coach Nathaniel Jones said. “That’s the tradition around Karr. We expect to win championships and play to win championships. But we still have a lot to improve on and a lot of work to do to get better.”
Players from the winning teams received a handshake from LSU coach Les Miles and a camp T-shirt.
“It’s a great teaching tool for a coach, the idea that they can bring their passing mechanics to a competitive tournament without contact and get better during the summer,” Miles said. “And it’s a lot of fun. The way these guys come in here and compete, you can see this is important to them.”
The 7-on-7 tournament, which included 30 teams, was part of LSU’s passing team camp and was held in conjunction with the LSU lineman team camp.
The number of high-caliber high school players on hand not only made for a competitive event, but also gave Miles and his coaching staff a chance to continue evaluating some of the state’s best college prospects.
One look at University High freshman-to-be Dylan Moses, who already has the frame of a Southeastern Conference linebacker, showed why he may be the most heralded young recruit Louisiana has known.
Elsewhere, Noil flashed his lightning-quick first step and sure hands.
He made one of the day’s most impressive plays on a point-after against John Ehret, shielding a defender with one hand and snagging the ball with the other — all as he tippy-toed the sideline to stay inbounds.
Several fields away, St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette caught passes for the Louisiana Bootleggers, a collection of all-stars that routinely competes for 7-on-7 titles.
“I came out here to have fun, and to work on my hands,” Fournette said.
Fournette said he will soon announce a list of college finalists but will not make a decision on the matter until National Signing Day. He said LSU will be one of the finalists. “We interact with the community of football, no question, and it’s a great opportunity for the high school coach to get their team better,” Miles said. “And obviously there is a prospect or two out here, and we enjoy seeing them, and enjoy seeing them compete and improve.”
While players like Noil and Fournette have been household names on the recruiting circuit for some time, the event allowed lesser-known prospects like Redemptorist wide receiver/defensive back Russell Gage to make a strong impression just before the summer ends.
A teammate of Fournette on the Bootleggers, Gage built on a strong performance at the LSU high school camp, which happened last week.
It seemed to catch the attention of LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who spent several minutes chatting with Gage, a rising senior, and Redemptorist coach Terence Williams before Saturday’s championship games got underway.
“This only makes your name bigger with this being LSU and all,” Gage said. “I hope my name’s getting out.”