Wednesday, May 07, 2008

2008 Team to Watch: John Curtis continues to look ahead to the 2008 high school football season. We're still a couple months away from the start of our expanded preseason national rankings release, but it's not too soon to whet your appetite with mini-previews of teams that are likely to figure very prominently on the national scene this season.

Last year the prolific Patriots lost two games for just the second time since 1986, but still added their 22nd state championship award to the trophy case. J.T. Curtis, the second winningest coach in prep football history, returns 10 starters from that team.

Curtis will rely on running back Kenny Cain to carry the load on offense. The 6-1, 200-pound senior averaged 8.5 yards per carry and scored 15 touchdowns last year. Defensively, Jonathan McKnight (6-0, 170) returns to lead the secondary and will also get snaps at receiver. McKnight, a sophomore with 4.55 speed, is the younger brother or former Curtis and current USC running back Joe McKnight.

Four transfers are expected to battle for starting positions including quarterback Evan Ingram, a strong-armed senior who played last year at H.L. Bourgeois (Gray).

There are back-to-back open dates in the middle of its schedule this year because Longview (Texas) chose not to return its game with the Patriots from last season. But Curtis will open the season on Labor Day at Texas Stadium in a nationally televised match-up with against defending 5A/I champ Euless Trinity.

John Curtis (River Ridge, La.)
Coach: J.T. Curtis (455-48-6, 36 years)

2007: 12-2, Class 2A state champion, Not ranked

Top returning players: RB/LB Kenny Cain (6-1, 200, 1,122 rushing yards, 15 TDs), DB/WR Jonathan McKnight (6-0, 170, played as a freshman), LB Matt Stansbury (5-11, 195, 111 tackles)

Key losses: CB Robby Green (Alabama), DB P.J. Smith (Nebraska), DB Alex Lauricella (Tulane)

All systems go: Running game, linebackers

Questions must be answered: Replacing three Division I defensive backs

Toughest games: vs. Euless Trinity at Texas Stadium (Sept. 1), vs. East St. John (Sept. 5), vs. Salmen (Sept. 12), @St. James (Oct. 24).

YouTube Video: 2007 State Championship Game Highlights

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