Neville won the Class 4A state championship for the second time in three years by defeating Edna Karr on Friday by a 27-6 margin. The future looks bright for the Tigers, too. Could Neville have the number one prospect in the state in both the '13 and '14 classes?
It will be difficult for any prospect to nudge St. Augustine RB Leonard Fournette from the top spot in the '14 class, but Neville cornerback Laurence Jones should give Fournette plenty of competition. Jones (6-2, 200) turned in another brilliant performance vs. Edna Karr, picking off a pass, recovering a fumble, and returning a kick 34 yards. In the semis, Jones did an excellent job of shadowing Breaux Bridge WR Travin Dural.
Neville four-star prospect John Diarse may have solidified his hold on the No. 1 ranking in Louisiana's '13 class. Diarse's 44-yard scamper around right end gave the Tigers an early lead vs. Karr that would not be relinquished. Although Diarse's natural position is probably wide receiver or safety, he seems equally adept at running the football, not to mention the fact that the junior placed perfect touch on more than one difficult pass Friday night.
Karr has its own '14 star in QB Devante Noil, who is also projected as a wide receiver. Noil is tough; he was knocked from the game by the ferocious Neville defense but returned and gave a gallant effort. At the post-game press conference, Noil hobbled from the room with ice packed all over both legs.
Actually, Karr has yet another sophomore stud in defensive end Gerald Willis. The younger brother of Dutchtown five-star safety Landon Collins, Willis (6-3, 260) doled out a couple of vicious hits vs. Neville.
Karr juniors Standish Dobard and Noel Ellis did not disappoint. A tight end, Dobard measures in the neighborhood of 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. He caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Noil in the first quarter. Ellis (5-10, 175) intercepted a Neville pass on the final play of the first half. He was also impressive in run support.
The MVP for Neville wasn't Jones or Diarse; it was linebacker Ricky Wyatt. Following the game, Neville head coach Mickey McCarty said colleges are sleeping on Wyatt and the proof is in the pudding. Wyatt returned an interception for a touchdown and generally wreaked havoc for four quarters. He mixed it up with 6-foot-8, 320-pound offensive tackle Derek Edinburgh on multiple occasions. Edinburgh, by the way, continues to improve and might have as much upside as any LSU commitment.
Neville kicker Ronaldo Guerreiro booted five field goals over the last two weeks. The foreign exchange student connected from 26 and 36 yards in the finals.
Ouachita Christian senior WR/DB Mark Laird is the real deal. Laird averaged almost eight yards per carry and rushed for a touchdown in the top-seeded Eagles' 23-7 win over No. 6 West St. John. He also hauled in four catches for 57 yards.
West St. John four-star LB Ronnie Feist showcased his versatility, lining up at end and tackle (and linebacker) on defense. He also played tight end. Feist didn't have a stellar night statistically (four tackles), but his presence was made known with some pulverizing shots on ballcarriers.