Catholic High Bears lead Louisiana prep football at midseason

Jude Papillion, Sports Editor

Four star Catholic High senior offensive tackle Emery Jones celebrates with senior wide receiver Tre’ Benson after a Benson touchdown. (Tracy Ducote)

Now that week five of Louisiana high school football is complete, the midseason point has arrived and the chase for state championship trophies is starting to heat up. 

In a highly anticipated matchup featuring the number one team from Louisiana’s 5A division, the Catholic High School Bears out of Baton Rouge, and the number one team from the 2A division, the Lafayette Christian Academy Knights, the Bears dominated on offense, defense and special teams to beat the Knights 38-17. 

The Bears, now ranked 20th nationally by MaxPreps and who received all 11 first place votes for Class 5A by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, started their rampage of the Knights on the first play of the game when sophomore quarterback Daniel Beale connected with five-star recruit and junior receiver Shelton Sampson Jr. for a 54-yard touchdown.

Sampson later caught another Beale touchdown pass and finished the game with over 103 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Beale finished with three touchdowns, completing 13 of his 24 passes for 220 yards. The Bears’ rushing attack was led by Army-University-commit Corey Singleton Jr., who finished with 16 rushes for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The Orange and Black dominated in both defense and special teams as well, intercepting two passes, recovering two fumbles and forcing a blocked punt. 

With the win, the 5-0 Bears are currently the clear-cut number one team in Louisiana prep football after already defeating Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Maryland, Acadiana High School, West Monroe High School and Warren Easton Charter High School. Catholic will face East Ascension High School at Memorial Stadium in Baton Rouge on Friday, and with just five teams remaining on their schedule before the playoffs, all from District 5-5A, any loss the Bears encounter this season would certainly be considered an upset. 

Not all went bad for the top teams in 2A however, as the Newman Greenies, led by quarterback Arch Manning — yes, one of those Manning’s — took care of business Uptown against Pearl River High School, winning 59-7 and advancing to 3-0 on the year. Newman scored 52 unanswered points on the way to victory, including a score on a pick-six, one of two interceptions by the Greenies that evening. With the win, Newman holds the third spot in 2A, behind Many High School and Lafayette Christian Academy as they look forward to opening district play against Fisher Middle-High School on Friday. 

Manning, the number one ranked player in the class of 2023 according to Rivals, put on an impressive performance, completing 25 of his 33 passes for 295 yards and five touchdowns while also collecting 38 yards on four carries. Manning has also thrown no interceptions through three games played this season and has accumulated 785 passing yards, completing over 66% of his passes for 11 touchdowns while also collecting 145 yards on 17 rushes for two touchdowns.

Class 4A powerhouse Edna Karr High School took down St. James High School 56-14 on Friday, making a case that they are the top team in New Orleans. The Cougars, top ranked in 4A, started slowly but then their explosive offense came to life as quarterback Anterious Samuel finished the game passing 17 of 24 for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Karr is now 3-0 on the season and will face 2-1 and highly ranked Warren Easton High School at Pan American Stadium on Saturday.

Brother Martin High School also makes a case for having the best team in the New Orleans area. The Crusaders are 3-0 this season, coming off a 45-21 win on Saturday against district 9-5A rival St. Augustine High School. Despite missing quarterback Garrett Mmahat who started the past 26 games for the Crusaders, Brother Martin played its first game with a fully healthy offensive line.  This provided protection for running back Torey Lambert who rushed for an impressive 255 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. Following the win, Lambert was named Greater New Orleans Player of the Week. The Crusaders, now ranked third in 5A, only behind Baton Rouge teams Catholic and Zachary High School, are set to face another 9-5A opponent on Friday, this time facing long-time rival Archbishop Rummel High School at Joe Yenni Stadium. 

The 26-time state champion John Curtis Christian Patriots had a rough start, falling to Edna Karr 33-19 on national television in their first game. Curtis did avenge their loss the next week, cruising past St. Augustine 42-16. Ranked ninth and 1-1 in 5A, the Patriots did not play last week, but we will see them again on Friday when they travel to the West Bank to face Archbishop Shaw High School. 

More New Orleans area teams to watch through the remainder of the season include 3-0 Archbishop Rummel High School, facing Catholic League rival Brother Martin; 3-0 Jesuit High School, meeting cross-town St. Augustine; 3-0 Ponchatoula High School who meets Mandeville High School and 2-0 Destrehan High School who will be battling Central Lafourche High School down in the bayou on Friday.

Other teams to keep an eye on statewide include 5-0 Zachary High School who is set to face Live Oak High School, 5-0 Alexandria Senior High School with a matchup against West Monroe High School and 4-1 Neville High School who faces Franklin Parish High School.