The 2017 LHSAA football state championships kick off on Thursday. Nine state champions will be crowned over a wild 72-hour span inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
The championship game schedule starts off with the Class 1A title game at noon on Thursday and closes with the Class 5A title game set for 7 p.m. CT on Saturday evening. Here’s a full look at the upcoming slate (all times Central):
Thursday, Dec. 7
- Class 1A: Kentwood vs. West St. John (noon)
- Division IV: Lafayette Christian vs. Ascension Catholic (3:30 p.m.)
- Division III: Notre Dame vs. Catholic-New Iberia (7 p.m.)
Friday, Dec. 8
- Class 2A: Welsh vs. St. Helena (noon)
- Division II: De La Salle vs. University (3:30 p.m.)
- Class 3A: Richwood vs. West Feliciana (7 p.m.)
Saturday, Dec. 9
- Division I: John Curtis vs. Catholic-Baton Rouge (noon)
- Class 4A: Edna Karr vs. Lakeshore (3:30 p.m.)
- Class 5A: Zachary vs. Hahnville (7 p.m.)
Here’s a list of the major Division I prospects and, of course, LSU targets to know in each one of the championship games:
1A: Kentwood vs. West St. John
Trey Palmer is the big name to know here. Palmer, a 4-star wide receiver in contention to be the top wide receiver in Louisiana’s 2019 class, has been a three-way player for Kentwood this fall. He sees action out wide, in the slot, in the secondary and as a return specialist. More often than not, the Kentwood coaches take advantage of the receiver’s explosiveness on short passes and screens to get Palmer in space. He should be the focal point of the West St. John defense.
Palmer’s teammate, 2019 wide receiver Edward Magee, is a bit of a sleeper in next year’s group of prospects. At 6-foot and 170 pounds, Magee has good hands and shows it on contested balls over the middle and over the top. Despite not having elite top-end speed, Magee is dangerous after the catch and a home-run threat and a prospect that the Kentwood coaches like to get in space. He’s a terrific complement to Palmer on the other side of the formation.
On the West St. John side, two underclassmen to watch include 2019 edge rusher Jonathan Porter and 2020 athlete Trenton Grow. Porter, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, has recorded 16 sacks already this season. Grow, who splits time at both cornerback and receiver, helped slow down Logansport High School athlete (and TCU commit) John Stephens Jr. in the Class 1A semifinals a week ago. He’s deemed the next big prospect to come through West St. John.
2A: St. Helena vs. Welsh
Troy Hurst is St. Helena’s do-it-all player. A Memphis pledge, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete lines up at multiple positions, including wildcat quarterback, wide receiver and out of the backfield. He is St. Helena’s most electric prospect with great speed and incredible athleticism, not to mention his versatility to make plays anywhere he lines up on the field.
Before committing to Memphis, LSU did its homework on Hurst. A top-40 prospect in the state, Hurst camped in Baton Rouge in June and drew the attention of the coaching staff. No offer was extended, but is a prospect they were high on after his performance working out at receiver and defensive back.
Ricky Travis, a Grambling commit, directs the St. Helena offense. A big-bodied passer that measures up at 6-foot-4 and just over 200 pounds, Travis has good arm strength and can place the ball anywhere on the field. He also is mobile and can make plays with his legs if they break down. Travis camped at LSU this summer with Hurst, but left without an offer. His forte is big plays down the field — often to the aforementioned Hurst — but still needs to refine his short and intermediate game.
St. Helena’s No. 78 certainly fits the bill as a sleeper in the 2019 class, but his mammoth size and excellent athleticism should make O’Cyrus Torrence a name to know for next year. Torrence plays on the defensive front and along the offensive line, and at 6-foot-5 and 350 pounds, he has the option to play either down the line. Torrence is quick and a feisty tackler, often able to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Expect him to be a well-known commodity with a strong performance in the Superdome and during camp season.
DII: De La Salle vs. University
There will be no shortage of talent on the field when De La Salle clashes with University High in the Division II showdown.
On the De La Salle side, Lance Robinson and Jamiran James are the centerpieces of the defense. James, one of the most underrated prospects in the state and a solid Tulane verbal, is a bit undersized but causes havoc in the trenches consistently. Robinson, a solid Kansas State commit, offers versatility and consistent playmaking on the back end of the defense at safety.
Offensively, Kendall Collins Jr. is another 2019 running back to monitor. Collins has been the catalyst to De La Salle’s run and is a home-run threat out of the backfield and on special teams. At 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, Collins fits the mold of a third-down back and a contributor in the return game, but he shows toughness running in between the tackles and should be a top prospect to watch this weekend.
University is equally as talented with big names to know on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the group is loaded in the secondary with top 4-star defensive back Jordan Clark anchoring the secondary. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Clark, the son of former LSU Tiger and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, is a bonafide stud capable of playing anywhere in the defensive backfield. He shows elite coverage skills and a knack for the football. Clark also sees action at wide receiver and will have his say in the outcome of this game.
Like Clark, 3-star athlete Mikaya Tongue sees time at safety and receiver. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound prospect is also the son of a former NFL Pro Bowler, Reggie Tongue. Tongue is extremely physical and may have a future at linebacker. He camped at LSU this summer and impressed Dave Aranda in that role.
Another linebacker to watch is 3-star Bryton Constantin. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound prospect is a true quarterback of his defense. Constantin has a nose for the football, is quick to read plays and often delivers big hits. He’s a run-stuffer and is excellent in pass coverage. Tulane and Louisiana Tech are among his early offers, with more certainly on the horizon.
The University defensive line is anchored by a marquee 2020 prospect Jaquelin Roy. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound tackle has the ability to line up all over a defensive front, where his strength, explosiveness and ability to make plays in the backfield help the rest of the defense to make plays. It starts up front with Roy, who is in the discussion as one of the best in the state for 2020.
Dylan Rathcke is becoming a household name among 2019 offensive lineman. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound 3-star plays right tackle and boasts a slew of in-state offers, including Tulane. Rathcke, who could play inside, too, is the key to University’s running game, which is headlined by budding tailback Michael Hollins. The shifty back holds offers from Utah and Tulane and is the spark-plug for this offense.
Christian Harris, a 3-star athlete on the University squad, will be seen on both sides of the ball. Harris fills in as an H-back, receiver, running back and some snaps on defense. He possesses a bevy of different skills and should be all over the field.
3A: West Feliciana vs. Richwood
West Feliciana has a team chock full of athletes, particularly in the 2018 class. That list begins with quarterback/safety Derek Turner, who recently added an offer from TCU to go with an impressive list of options that also includes Auburn, Ole Miss and South Carolina, among others. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound projected safety is among Auburn’s top targets in this recruiting cycle for good reason. Turner was the fastest man during LSU’s June prospect camp. Along with elite speed, he is a vicious tackler with a high football IQ and terrific instincts, not to mention exceptional cover skills.
Derius Davis will be a name often overheard on the Dome loud speaker. A two-way athlete, Davis, a TCU commit, is a threat to score on other side of the ball. A ballhawking corner and a dangerous all-purpose back/slot receiver, Davis helped slow down 4-star LSU receiver commit Kenan Jones on the way to the state finals. He’ll be key again in this game.
Another dynamic athlete to keep tabs on is Davon Harris, better known as “Smoke.” The 5-foot-6, 170-pound Louisiana Tech verbal has a unique blend of skills including quickness, shifty footwork and the ability to get in and out of his breaks at a rapid pace. The West Feliciana coaches use “Smoke” on gadget plays, as a wildcat quarterback and, of course, as a threat in the passing game at both receiver and out of the backfield. As a return specialist, Harris is a home-run threat and will garner the full attention of the Richwood defense and kick coverage teams.
For Richwood, all eyes should be on Mississippi State 3-star tight end pledge Geor’quarius Spivey. The raw athlete has taken his game to new heights in the second half of the season and into the postseason. At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Spivey towers over defenders and should pose a unique threat to the talented West Feliciana secondary. If Spivey gets loose down the seam and makes plays in the red zone, it would bode well for the Rams.
On the other side of the ball, Hidari Caesar is a sleeper from North Louisiana committed to TCU. Hidari Caesar, TCU defensive back commit will play a big role in trying to slow down the potent West Feliciana offense. Caesar, who is Richwood’s most dangerous return man, has excellent skills in space and great lower-body strength. He’s a force on numerous special teams units. Additionally, Caesar will face his biggest challenge to date trying to keep Turner, Davis and Harris in check for 48 minutes.
DI: John Curtis vs. Catholic-Baton Rouge
Glenn Beal has cemented his status as not only the best tight end in the state for 2018, but among the top prospects at his position nationally. At 6-foot-5 and 260 or so pounds, the 3-star prospect is a priority target for LSU and could wind up playing one of three positions in Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa or elsewhere. Beal has phenomenal hands and has deceptive speed running down the seam. He also steps in on obvious passing-down situations to rush the passer, which is something to monitor at different junctures in the game. Of course, Curtis’ run-heavy offense forces Beal to block for most plays. Beal excels in that role and could eventually shift out to offensive tackle. He shows a lot of the same elite traits as former Curtis and LSU alum Dillon Gordon.
Donald Clay highlights a young, talented Curtis secondary. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound junior has seen his recruitment take off thanks to coaches noticing his outstanding football IQ. Arkansas and Memphis are among his early overtures. Clay is good against the run and is improving as a pass defender. He’ll be counted on heavily to slow down the potent Catholic rushing attack, which uses multiple running backs throughout the contest.
4A: Edna Karr vs. Lakeshore
As always, the team from 3332 Huntlee Drive will sport an outstanding cast of prospects and this year’s squad is no exception. That list begins on defense with 2019 4-star cornerback Devin Bush, who has distinguished himself as one of the best ballhawking defensive backs in the state regardless of classification. Bush returned an interception for a touchdown in last year’s championship game against Neville and will have countless opportunities to do the same against a high-octane passing attack from Lakeshore this turn. Bush will be a major X-factor in this tilt.
Bush is joined in the secondary by 2018 3-star safety Quindell Jones, a Memphis commit. The 6-foot, 180-pound enforcer is a major asset in the run and passing game, extremely aggressive and makes his presence felt. His toughness cannot be questioned, nor the leadership he provides to this Karr defense.
Offensively, 3-star Oregon State wide receiver commit Anthony Spurlock has overcome some early season injuries to be a catalyst during Karr’s playoff run. The speedy 6-foot-1, 170-pound Spurlock has been nearly impossible to slow down and stepped up huge in the most important games of the season. He has excellent hands and is a smooth route runner, and most importantly, adjusts his routes for his mobile quarterback Skyler Perry.
Karr also has a sleeper 2019 running back tandem of Ronnie Jackson and Ahmad Antoine that drive this offense. Jackson, who measures up at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, is a bruiser. While he doesn’t possess top-end speed, his great lower-body strength helps him drive the pile and run through would-be tacklers. Antoine offers a nice change-of-pace as a shifty, explosive runner that can go in between the tackles or around the edge, giving Karr a dynamic 1-2 punch in its backfield.
5A: Hahnville vs. Zachary
Hahnville’s march to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome has been headlined by none other than Pooka Williams, who — if there was any doubts — has proven to be the most dynamic athlete in Louisiana and perhaps holds the title as one of the best to ever come from the storied River Parishes.
Williams, a 3-star Kansas verbal, has run off a series of 300-plus-yard performances from the regular season into the 5A title game. LSU is among the teams hoping to flip the do-it-all athlete, who plays running back, receiver, cornerback and is a special teams ace. Whether that comes to fruition will largely depend on his academic standing. He plans to sign his letter of intent on Dec. 20, the first day of the early signing period, which certainly bodes well for Kansas’ chances of holding on.
Part of the reason for Williams’ success is due to an outstanding offensive line spearheaded by 3-star lineman Larry Dixon. The mammoth-sized lineman plays tackle for Hahnville but will likely shift inside at a Power 5 level next year. He holds offers from schools such as Mississippi State and Houston, among others.
One budding prospect from Boutte to start monitoring is quarterback/athlete Jha’Quan Jackson. The junior already holds an offer from Tulane, but come camp season should start to generate buzz as one of the top slot receivers within the state. That talent should be on display in the Dome as he makes plays all over the field.
For Zachary, which is making its return to the championship for the first time since former LSU quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. led them there in 2015, all eyes should be on underrated wide receiver Trae Shropshire. Kansas and Arizona State have offered the lengthy 6-foot-3, 180-pound receiver. Shropshire gets great separation and has exceptional athleticism. He’s Zachary’s big-play threat and who they count on to move the chains. He’s a home-run threat with the ball in his hands and in the short and deep-passing game.