In order to get you ready for the first day of action, TSD's Hunter Paniagua is going to break down Thursday's three contests by looking at some of the D-1 prospects involved in the action. Also, he'll have live updates New Orleans, and you can find those in the thread dedicated to the Prep Classic by clicking the link below.
No. 4 Archbishop Hannan vs. No. 2 Calvary Baptist – 12:30 p.m.
Both of these teams will be looking for their first ever state championships. Hannan doesn't necessarily have much D-1 talent, but they have some playmakers that have led them on a surprising run this deep into the playoffs. But Calvary is considered the overwhelming favorite in this one, as their high-powered offense has cruised them past some of the top teams in the state, including a 34-33 semifinal win against Catholic-New Iberia.
Led by sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson, an Arizona commit, Calvary can get it done on both the air and ground. Patterson's an intriguing prospect as this is his first year in Louisiana after moving in the summer from Texas. Though he's still committed to Arizona, entering SEC territory has placed him on the radar of several schools in the region, including LSU. Patterson camped at LSU in July and received plenty of attention from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. He's helped out by a pair of players that will likely end up on defense in college, but excel on the offensive side of the ball in high school. Orlando Bradford, a RB/DB, already has an offer from Tennessee, and Shun Brown is one of Calvary's leading receivers. He's still looking for that first offer.
No. 2 University Lab vs. No. 1 John Curtis – 4:30 p.m.
Without a doubt this is the most anticipated matchup of the weekend. Curtis and U-High are two of the top teams in the state, regardless of classification, and the Dome will be absolutely brimming with college talent once this game gets going. Curtis is no stranger to the big stage as this marks their 18th consecutive state championship appearance and they'll seek their 26th title.
They're led by a bevy of seniors that will be playing on Saturdays next fall. The biggest among them is the nation's No. 1 WR Malachi Dupre. He may not get much action in Curtis' run-heavy offense, but he's someone that has to be accounted for on every play. Also on the offensive side of the ball are RBs George Moreira, who's receiving attention from some smaller FBS schools, and Raekwon James, whose lone offer right now comes from Northern Colorado. Also keep an eye on 2016 OL Willie Allen, who has visited LSU multiple times this season and could be the state's top lineman in his class.
On defense is where the Patriots really shine. Led by LSU LB target Kenny Young, U-High's really going to have its work cut out for them moving the ball against Curtis. Young is joined by plenty of other top talent, like DBs Terrence Alexander and Mattrell McGraw. Neither received that LSU offer, but they're still getting plenty of attention. Alexander has cut his list to Ole Miss, Ohio State and Stanford, while McGraw likes a pair of west coast schools in Oregon and UCLA. They're joined in the secondary by 2015 S Hunter Dale, who has already received offers from schools like Florida, Ole Miss and Mississippi State among others.
But U-High has plenty of its own talent, led by three LSU commits in OL Garrett Brumfield, RB Nicholas Brossette and RB/LB Dylan Moses. The school that's on the LSU campus has already been very good to the Tigers, and it's evident why they spend so much time recruiting that program. Brumfield's joined on the offensive line by a UL-Lafayette commit Drew Moore, and they play a large part in paving the way for Brossette and Moses to run free. U-High also has a pair of promising sophomore DBs in Tre Jackson, a Florida commit, and Malik Antoine, who has spent extensive time around the LSU program, and would appear to be a sure thing if the Tigers come through with an offer.
No. 5 Archbishop Rummel vs. No. 2 C.E. Byrd – 8:30 p.m.
The nightcap may not have quite as much starpower as the game before it, but it should still be a great matchup as Rummel looks to defend its state title from last season. But they enter as the underdog to Byrd's run-heavy offense. Byrd's biggest name to keep an eye on is 2015 TE Michael Dunman. He camped at LSU this summer and spent time in Baton Rouge during the season. Already at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, Dunman could be a big, blocking tight end in the mold of Dillon Gordon if LSU continues to recruit him.
LSU hasn't recruited this year's Rummel team very hard, but the Raiders do have some talent. A pair of senior DBs in Henre Toliver and Dwayne Eugene are committed to Arkansas, and WR Steven Dunbar made a pledge to Houston. Also keep an eye on sophomore CB Kristian Fulton, who already has offers from Louisiana Tech and Tulane. He could be one of the state's top DBs in the 2016 class.