It's never a bad time to be named FOXSportsNEXT.com national champion, of course, but the way it all came together for No. 1 John Curtis Christian -- on Christmas Eve, for added holiday cheer -- made it seem like the Patriots were destined to win their first national crown during a year where the River Ridge-based power was celebrating its 50th year of existence and also snatching a Louisiana record 25th state title.
Curtis successfully fended off criticism of a schedule that was, overall, average at best with a few tough large non-district foes preceding the Pats' foray into a district slate riddled with mismatches.
At the end of 15 weeks (Curtis had an open date along the way), the Patriots were a perfect 14-0 after handily defeating Evangel Christian in the Class 2A finals.
The Patriots have won 28 straight and the highlights of 2012 will be covered in the near future in a follow-up segment to this article.
The heavily family-oriented coaching staff is headed up by J.T Curtis Jr., son of the late Rev. J.T. Curtis Sr, the school's founder.
Curtis, who passed the 500-win mark earlier this year, is second among all prep football coaches in career victories. He's joined by several family members on the staff who will be discussed in greater detail in follow-up editions to this series.
"No doubt he is smiling down," said offensive coach Jeff Curtis, son of J.T. and a former Curtis/Tulane quarterback. "I am so happy for him, my dad, the past players, current players and all who have worked so hard at allowing us to have this opportunity.
"It is a true honor to the sacrifice and dedication that those have made to allow this great honor. We look forward to continuing on with this great tradition of building champions for life!"
The Patriots relied on a combination of incredible depth and overwhelming physical team strength to easily cruise past all competitors, including a week two signature rout of Tampa Plant, which entered the contest ranked higher than the Pats.
"It's an honor to play for Curtis," wrote Duke Riley, the highest-profile (and highest-ranked) 2013 prospect. "I wouldn't want to play for any other team or coaches..."
An uncommitted outside linebacker, Riley was named all-state defensive most valuable player following both his junior and senior seasons. He led the team in tackles the past three years.
"I mean it's a great goal cause we always strive to be the best," said Tulane 2013 RB commit Sherman Badie, who is ranked nationally at his position (and pictured below, photos by author). "It feels good knowing that all that hard work and running we used to do all paid off.
"We now can say that we're #1! It's a great accomplishment."
One of four Curtis seniors that are committed to Tulane, Badie paced a busy Curtis backfield in rushing the past two years. He only carried the football 69 times in 14 games but ripped through defenses for 814 yards and 16 TDs.
Another member of the starting RB rotation is 2014 George Moreira (5-9, 195, 4.5).
"My thoughts on it (consensus No. 1) are it's pretty amazing," said Moreira, who ranked third in rushing and averaged 13.5 yards per carry with eight touchdowns.
"We made history with Curtis' first national championship. All of the hard work has paid off and it's a blessing."
The Patriots have a strong case for preseason No. 1 in 2013 with impact players such as Moreira and junior CB Terrence Alexander coming back.
"And it's just given the juniors like myself something to uphold and keep going. Also, it puts a target on our back. Hopefully we can get a lot of good games next year."
Curtis moves up to Class 3A next year where the playoffs should certainly be much more interesting thanks to programs like defending champ Parkview Baptist, Notre Dame of Crowley, St. Charles Catholic, Amite and Farmerville.
That's not to mention Evangel and University Lab, both accompanying the Patriots on a jump from 2A to 3A.
Duke Riley (right) with Terrence Alexander following week three win over East Saint John at Bertolino.: