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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Curtis sees little drop-off at Evangel

Much has changed since John Curtis last faced Evangel, a classic showdown at the New Orleans Superdome in 1999 between private school powers at opposite ends of Louisiana.

The Eagles scored the game's first 28 points and managed to hold on for a 28-20 victory over John Curtis on that special Saturday. The stars of the afternoon were quarterback Brock Berlin and Phillip Geiggar, who returned the opening kickoff for a score.

That same team went on to win the mythical national championship, according to some pollsters.

Of course, the Eagles are nowhere near that good anymore. There's quite a few reasons for that, including the emergence of another local private-school (Calvary Baptist) that's competing in the other 2A semifinal this Friday.

But the most visible difference, John Curtis coach J.T. Curtis said, is in the physical size of those Eagles.

"That team might have been a little bigger," Curtis said earlier this week. "That was an awfully good Evangel team in terms of size and skill. This team has its share, but not quite as many."

To be sure, Evangel is still plenty big and plenty good compared to most other schools. Whereas the Eagles were one of the top five programs in the country a decade ago, now they're merely among the top 100.

"Evangel is doing what they always do. Now they're just one of the top 40 teams in America," said Ken Trahan, a New Orleans-based radio personality and Louisiana prep football savant. "Look at what Evangel did to Westgate."

Trahan was referring to Evangel's season-opening 38-6 rout of Westgate, one of four Class 5A teams still vying for the state crown.

You see, Evangel might never completely slip too far from the top. Despite this slight dip in talent, the Eagles are two wins away from their fourth-straight state title. Curtis pointed to the stability of the program, noting the Duron family and the innovative spread offense have been the constants during Evangel's string of success - 11 state championships in 17 years of LHSAA competition.

"They're very much like they always have been," Curtis said.

We'll see for sure Friday night, down in Jefferson Parish.


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