A huge exclamation point was put on the season when the Patriots dominated the 2018 Division I state title game, 49-7 last Saturday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. There were questions from many that the Patriots didn’t have what it took to win a state championship in the state’s highest classification after coming up short the previous four seasons. The Patriots answered that question emphatically from the outset of the game and dominated in all three phases of the contest.
The Patriots took the opening drive and marched down the field chewing up yards and clock when senior running back Ma’Khi Smith raced around right end for the game’s first touchdown with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter. After an interception by junior Dante Thomas on Catholic’s third offensive play, junior running back Corey Wren took a pitch from quarterback Collin Guggenheim and easily found the endzone from ten yards out for a quick 14-0 lead. That would be all the points the Patriots would need to win the game, as the defense crushed the Bears and turned them away time and time again. The Bears did have one nice drive that ended with a touchdown to close to 14-7 with 1:40 left in the first quarter. Wren answered that quickly on the very next offensive snap when he took a pitch down the Bear sideline from 80 yards out for a 21-7 lead with 1:27 left in the quarter.
The second quarter was the quietest quarter of the game as neither team was able to point any points on the board. The Patriots came close twice. First, the Patriots elected to punt from the 35 yard line to try to pin the Bears deep in their own territory. That was the Patriots’ only punt of the game. The other was a Guggenheim pass that was just underthrown and intercepted by the Bears inside the three yard line late in the second quarter.
The Patriots then did what they do after halftime. Make adjustments and go to work. The defense promptly forced a three and out and the Patriot offense went to work after a booming punt by the Bear punter. A 17 play drive was capped off by a 4 yard touchdown run by Choncee Crum with 2:44 left in the third quarter. The Patriot defense then ended any thoughts of a Bears comeback on the next possession. Fittingly, senior defensive back Donald Clay stepped in front of a pass with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter and took it to the house for a 36-7 lead after Guggenheim fielded a high snap and raced in for a 2 point conversion.
The defense was the unsung hero all season long. Constantly coming up with clutch turnovers and stops to give the Patriot offense great field position. Led by seniors Clay, Brenton Clofer, Jordan Barfield, Colby Orgeron, Dominic Brown, Josh Valentine and Brendon Wilcox, the Patriot defense held a potent Bear offense to just 243 total yards and just 7 points. The Bears came into the game averaging a little over 40 points per game against a really good schedule. The Bears had wins over 5A state champion Zachary and the Division II runner up St. Thomas More. Their lone defeat was a 41-21 loss to Division II state champion University High.
The offense didn’t go on cruise control. They continued to gain chunks on the ground and chew up the clock in the fourth quarter. Guggenheim scored from 7 yards out with 7:40 to play to ice the game and give the Patriots a 43-7 lead. Senior August Berry then raced 61 yards with the second team offense on the field to give the Patriots a 49-7 victory. In all, the Patriot offense rushed for 442 yards on the ground. Paving the way for the dominant performance was the lone senior on the offensive line, Preston Guedry. Senior wide receiver Lance Williams had a huge season for the Patriots and some big downfield blocks to spring Patriot ball carriers into the open. The 49 points were the most points ever scored in a state championship game and the second biggest point differential in a state championship game. The Patriots have now played in 36 state championship games, winning 27 of them. The Patriots also finished the season a perfect 13-0. This is the 13th time the Patriots have finished the season undefeated.
Stay tuned for the Patriots 2019 schedule once it is finalized. It is sure to be another exciting season. Thank you to all of the players, parents, family members, students, faculty, administration, fans and others who helped with this magical season.