NO. 4 EAST FELICIANA (12-0) AT NO. 1 JOHN CURTIS CHRISTIAN (11-1) -- It's been a dream season for East Feliciana, which didn't even exist last year. The consolidation of Clinton High School and Jackson High School has been a perfect blend for head coach Cedric Anderson and his staff.
Last week, the Tigers made quite a statement by easily handling Calvary Baptist, 33-7. Despite its undefeated record (and home field advantage), East Feliciana was considered by many prep football insiders to be an underdog in the quarterfinals vs. the Cavaliers, who were red-hot and playing as well as anybody in 2A.
That notion, however, was quickly put to the rest in the cold weather Friday night in Clinton.
Running back Joseph Robinson, a mainstay for the Tigers this fall, got things started with a 20-yard touchdown run. His backfield mate, QB Kendall Beckwith, followed with a 50-yard scoring jaunt, and senior DB Gilbert Grogan returned an interception for six points.
Over the past two games, Grogan has picked off four passes and brought back three to paydirt.
Last week, Ceasar -- who has approximately 600 yards receiving this year -- caught a 20-yard scoring strike from Beckwith.
East Feliciana's offensive line drew much-deserved praise after controlling the line of scrimmage vs. Calvary Baptist, but will the Tigers be able to do the same thing against John Curtis Christian?
The Patriots boast one of the state's top juniors in three-star defensive tackle Marcel Andry, and Curtis has a stellar group of linebackers including senior Seth Jones, junior Torrey Bell, and sophomore Duke Riley.
The team's top tackler is Riley (105 stops). Defensive back Raydell Mason returned an interception for a touchdown in the second-round vs. University Lab. He has four picks this year. Andry is second on the team with 82 tackles.
Defensive linemen Chris Lorden (230 pounds) and Nick Willheit (250 pounds) have both enjoyed excellent years with 59 and 42 tackles, respectively.
In the quarterfinals, Curtis shook off a sluggish first half to defeat Riverside Academy for the fourth time in two seasons.
Bourgeois, Pierce, and Quincy Smith have combined to rush for more than 2,000 yards with 32 touchdowns.
Wide receiver Josh Hanberry (32-587, 9 TDs) is a deep threat, while three-star junior TE Dillon Gordon (6-foot-4, 260) is a huge target in the red zone. Gordon doesn't get a lot of passes thrown his way, but he's averaging over 20 yards per catch. Offensive lineman Cedric Otkins (280 pounds) provides beef up front.
East Feliciana is big and fast, just like Curtis. However, the Tigers haven't faced the competition that Curtis has encountered. The Patriots' early-season games against 5A Mandeville and 4A Salmen will come in handy here.
Moreover, Curtis' strong suit is special teams and that could be an advantage over an East Feliciana team that goes for the two-point conversion after many scores.
The Tigers are tremendous on both sides of the football, but no one prepares his team any better than J.T. Curtis and his staff.