St. Paul's vs. Tallahassee Lincoln: 1st Look

We're only a couple of months away from the kickoff of the '12 football season. On September 7th, the Superdome will host a doubleheader known as the Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic. Tampa Plant squares off with John Curtis Christian in one game, while St. Paul's (Covington, La.) has a showdown with Tallahassee Lincoln in the other matchup. The Wolves from Louisiana are led by S Jay Washington.

St. Paul's posted a 10-1 record in 2011. The Wolves garnered the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A bracket but were unceremoniously ousted by No. 32 Central in the first round. Needless to say, St. Paul's (SPS) is motivated after becoming the first top seed in 5A to ever lose in the postseason opener.

The Wolves of head coach Ken Sears completed another perfect regular season in 2010 (lost to eventual state champ Acadiana in the quarterfinals). SPS hasn't dropped a regular season game since a 26-24 loss to Edna Karr on September 4th, 2009.

On offense, Coach Sears will hand over the reins to senior quarterback Collin D'Angelo, who gets the nod after Patrick Duncan (1,500 yards passing, 15 TDs) graduated. D'Angelo (6-1 1/2, 195) completed one pass last year for 24 yards. He might lack experience as a starter, but teammates say their new signal-caller is a good leader.

Three of the top four rushers - FB Dylan Long (McNeese State) and RBs Markell Powell and Kris Brumfield - are gone although '14 speed demon Marcus Gaines returns to electrify the crowd. As a sophomore, Gaines gained 304 yards on the ground with five TDs. He was also the leading receiver with 341 yards and three more scores. In a week one rout of Karr last fall, Gaines grabbed three catches for 75 yards, including a 61-yard TD. He ran a 10.62 in the 100 meters this year - good enough for second place among all sprinters in the metro New Orleans area.

D'Angelo has another solid receiver in senior tight end Ryan Malone (6-3, 245), who totaled 24 catches for 205 yards in 2011. Malone had at least one reception in 10 games -- with a season-high of five for 35 yards in a 43-3 drubbing of Northshore. He caught a pivotal touchdown pass in the Wolves' 17-0 win over Salmen.

Christian Voelkel, a 6-3, 265-pound senior offensive lineman, has an offer from ULM. He is joined on the interior by fellow senior Kyle Cuntz.

The Trojans from Lincoln HS were 9-2 in 2011. The campus of the Class 7A program is located less than 10 miles east of Florida State.

Lincoln was eliminated from the '11 playoffs by Fleming Island (Orange Park, FL).

Fred Rouse, a five-star wide receiver in 2004, is a Lincoln product. Other former Lincoln stars include LB Craig Stevens (Auburn), CB Ashton Henderson (Michigan St.), WR Brandon Bradley (BYU), CB Mike Slade (Auburn), S Da'Shaun Barnes (Auburn), CB T.J. Bryant (USC), QB B.J. Daniels (South Florida), TE Ja'Baris Little (Florida St.), S Jawanza Starling (USC), OL Cody Gibson (South Carolina), RB Javorius Allen (USC) and WR Raph Andrades (Florida).

Lincoln is a hot-bed of talent.

This year's roster is long on standout wide receivers. Three-star WR Reggie Davis, a Georgia commit, has been invited to The Opening. Four-star Taj Williams (6-3, 195) has offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Notre Dame, among others. According to National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons, Williams (pictured below) is a top ten receiver in the south.

A third wide-out, Myles Gaines, has a couple of FCS offers. The trio of seniors combined for 40 catches in 2011. Davis led the way with 26 receptions. Last year's senior star RB, D.J. Abnar, gained 1,275 yards with 21 touchdowns. He leaves big shoes to fill. Davis was second on the team in rushing with 139 yards.

QB Ronald Butler, who definitely knew how to take care of the football (21 TDs, only two picks), has departed. Senior Cameron Joseph (6-0, 180) connected on five of his eight passing attempts in limited duty.

Lincoln was well-balanced on offense last year, and the Trojans had no problem putting points on the board (averaged 40 ppg). Both teams have experienced linebackers. Lincoln's James Hearns, a Florida commit, is the No. 14 MLB in the country. The 6-3, 225-pounder is coming off an injury (torn ACL). In March, Chad Simmons named Hearns as a top ten linebacker in the south.

St. Paul's counters with OLB Ed Duplessis, a senior with offers from Memphis and North Texas. Duplessis (6-2, 200) has excellent speed. St. Paul's also has a terrific safety in senior Jay Washington. Last year, Washington had a banner performance on statewide television vs. Salmen and WR Chuck Baker (LSU commit). He and Baker are good friends, but that didn't get in the way of controlled violence when they knocked heads at St. Paul's. Washington is a picture-perfect form tackler.

St. Paul's defensive line features '13 prospect Gustavo Garcia (6-3, 230). Garcia notched six sacks in 2011. He recovered a fumble and returned it 78 yards to paydirt vs. Fontainebleau.

SPS must cope without kicker/punter Trent Domingue, a first-team all-state selection who is a preferred walk-on at LSU. Another first-team all-state selection, DB Dane Stubbs, must be replaced. Senior DBs Sean Lozes and Justin Elzy each had an interception in 2011. Washington led the team with three picks.

Lincoln has a pair of senior DBs to watch in Ben Robinson and Cameron Lang. '14 prospect Kendall Randolph (5-11, 180) can play DB or QB. He and Hearns camped at Florida on Friday. '14 WR/DB Tusun Young caught the eye of Regional Recruiting Analyst Steve Robertson last year at the IMG Madden Football Academy 7-on-7 championship. Lincoln also has a '15 WR waiting in the wings: France Green.

SCOUT'S TAKE: Both teams will trot out new quarterbacks this fall, and both squads were ravaged by graduation when it comes to the running game. With their depth, Lincoln has the luxury of spreading WRs all over the field. Washington (pictured below) will need to perform at his usual high level in order to slow down the Lincoln passing attack.

D'Angelo will want to get the ball into the hands of Marcus Gaines as much as possible. Last year, Gaines was a wide out who got frequent carries on speed sweeps. Perhaps Coach Sears will feed Gaines from the halfback spot in 2012. SPS utilizes a FB to lead the charge (and tote the rock often), and a new starter at that position will get a chance to make an instant impact. It will be difficult, however, to adequately step into the void left by Dylan Long.

One final thing to watch: St. Paul's has a week one tilt vs. Edna Karr and the Wolves could be banged up after that contest. Edna Karr is a physical, fast team that is looking for payback after getting manhandled in the 2011 opener vs. St. Paul's.

Lincoln gets Pensacola the week prior to facing St. Paul's.

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