Jesuit well-prepared to handle Curtis on 'O' and 'D'

For the greater part of 39 years, John Curtis High School has enjoyed success on the football field with an antiquated, yet effective, offense.

Few opponents have been able to stop the Patriots’ triple option, as head coach J.T. Curtis’ 540 victories will attest.

But Jesuit did, and that’s a tribute to the Blue Jays’ coaching staff under Mark Songy, and particularly defensive coordinator Troy Baglio, who was an All-State offensive tackle on Curtis’ 1993 state title team.

Who better to know how to defend against the dive, keep or pitch?

And he gave the Blue Jays extra incentive by showing them his championship ring, earned in a 42-14 win over Wossman that year.

As prepared as they were, Jesuit’s defense didn’t exactly stop the Curtis ground game, which piled up 217 yards, but it did slow the Patriots down enough for the offense to pull out a 17-14 victory and an eighth state championship.

In receiving the Division I Select schools trophy, Jesuit ended a long championship drought that dated back to 1960. It was earned by hitting the Patriots harder than Curtis could respond in kind.

Curtis managed to convert just two of 10 third downs against the Blue Jays’ D. And Jesuit’s punts were angled to the sidelines where the Patriots could not form a blocking wall.

The Blue Jays’ large offensive line opened gaping holes in Curtis’ defense for running backs Charles Jackson and Chris Mills to gain most of the team’s 210 rushing yards. Jackson’s 142 yards earned him the Outstanding Player plaque for his team.

The Jesuit victory begs the question: Is Curtis ready to compete in the state’s top classification?

The Patriots did beat Mandeville and East St. John, two Class 5A teams with a combined record of 15-10.

They also soundly defeated Brother Martin, 40-20, in the playoffs. But they finished 1-2 against Catholic League members by losing to St. Augustine and Jesuit.

Five hundred-plus victories and 26 state championships speak for themselves. The question is, can the Patriots dominate 5A opponents for 10 consecutive weeks as they have weak brothers in their various districts over the years?

Jesuit has played that level of competition every week.

As a footnote, each team is guaranteed the sum of $11,500 from the LHSAA. Division II finalists get $10,000 apiece, Division III $7,500 and Division IV $5,500.

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