Tevin Horton, John Curtis
You have to give Evangel the benefit of the doubt. The Eagles have knocked off John Curtis twice in a row in the state finals and the Shreveport private school has a stockpile of talent returning, despite the loss of five-star DE Jermauria Rasco (now at LSU). Both Evangel and Curtis have tremendous, deep junior classes. The Eagles feature the one-two punch of '13 prospects X'Zavier Preston and Josh Thomas. Preston is an inside linebacker with an intimidating physique. He's listed anywhere from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-2, but the 230-pounder can play at a high level -- regardless of his actual height. Thomas, a 6-foot-7, 320-pound offensive tackle, may have the most upside of any junior (in any class) in the state. As Thomas continues to mature into his body, he'll continue to improve his footwork and agility. He's already getting significant interest from Texas and LSU. The Duron legacy continues for Evangel at QB, with junior Dakota Duron taking over the reins from older brother David Dee Duron. The Eagles have a quartet of experienced receivers, led by Judah Jones. Evangel never ducks anyone: their non-district slate includes (Tulsa) Union, Lafayette (Oxford, Ms.), Barbe, St. Thomas More (13-1 last year) and Ouachita Parish.
John Curtis is determined to reach the pinnacle again this December. The Patriots have the top senior prospect in the 2A class: TE Dillon Gordon (LSU commit). Gordon might log more time on defense than offense. He's one of the biggest LBs you'll see on the high school level at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. The Patriots have another SEC commit on defense in 6-foot-5 DE Torrey Bell (Mississippi State). Bell has reportedly gained 20 pounds since last year (now up to 245). Curtis' defensive line must find a way to replace three-star tackle Marcel Andry, who transferred across town to St. Augustine. Junior RB Tevin Horton has been brilliant at summer camps (and in last week's scrimmage vs. John Ehret). LB Duke Riley, another junior, accounted for 20 tackles in the 2010 state finals. The Patriots knock heads with defending 4A state champ Franklinton in week one and Westgate (5A semifinalist) in week two.
West Saint Mary lost seven games last year (competing in 3A), but the Wolfpack have three seniors who are as good as it gets: OL/DL Jerald Hawkins (LSU commit) and athletes Daijuan Stewart (SMU commit) & Jontrey Tillman (Stanford). Robert Martin, a natural defensive back, plays linebacker (and plays it well) for head coach Ryan Antoine. A defensive mastermind, Antoine will turn this program around - starting this year. His offensive coordinator -- A.J. Smith -- runs a wide-open, unpredictable attack that's fun for players and daunting for opposing defensive coordinators. West Saint Mary may lose a few games - they have a rugged schedule that includes a pair of 5A programs - but nobody wants this team on the opposite sideline when the postseason rolls around.
Johnathan Shepherd, Calvary Baptist
A few years ago, Calvary Baptist upset south Shreveport nemesis Evangel and the Cavaliers hope to turn the trick again this fall. Last year's head coach, Bo Meeks, has moved across the Red River to 5A Airline. Former Evangel head coach John Bachman, who takes over for Meeks, guided the Eagles to the state championship two years ago. His staff includes multiple coaches with former ties to Evangel. WR Johnathan Shepherd may be the best sleeper prospect in the state. He immediately caught the eye of Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Greg Powers at a 7-on-7 tourney in Arkansas during the summer. The Cavaliers need RB Brandon Wilson to stay healthy. The senior speedster, who has missed significant portions of each of the past two seasons, would have a long list of offers if his health wasn't an issue. QB Nik McCarty can sling it (2,656 yards, 33 TDs in 2010). Calvary has considerably beefed up its non-district slate; in a four-game stretch, the Cavs take on 5A West Monroe, 5A Carencro, 4A Teurlings Catholic and Redemptorist (which moved down from 3A).
Redemptorist, which reached the 3A quarters last year behind seniors Jeremy Hill and Lael Collins, is shifting from its traditional power running game to the spread. Junior WR Donald Gage should emerge as a big-time prospect for the Wolves. His classmate, inside linebacker Jestin Kelly, will also play on the next level. Episcopal will vie with Redemptorist for district honors. The Knights have one of the state's top prospects in senior DE Tylor Harris. Fellow senior Michael Henry (RB/LB) is a hard-nosed, blue-collar worker.
In 2010, Winnfield caught fire in the playoffs. The Tigers and do-it-all athlete Alonzo Moore (Nebraska offer) ousted previously-unbeaten South Beauregard in the first round and proceeded to eliminate a higher-seeded, one-loss Episcopal team the following week. The Tigers will go as far as Moore can take them. Loreauville has its own sleeper stud prospect in senior RB Nick Julien. Junior athlete Jermaine Antoine will be highly-recruited.