It would be easy for the
Curtis (River Ridge, La.)
football team to look for sympathy.
On the cusp of a monumental showdown with Plant (Tampa, Fla.)
, the small private school is still recovering from a week of uncertainty following Hurricane Isaac, a storm that almost cost the Patriots their first game.
Franklinton, Curtis' opponent, was unable to make the trip. Last Friday at 11 a.m., head coach J.T. Curtis got on the phone with St. Paul's head coach Ken Sears, whose week one opponent, Edna Karr, had Isaac-related transportation issues and could not play its scheduled game. Curtis and Sears agreed to play the next day, Saturday, at 3 p.m., a game Curtis won 26-7.
"It was such a last minute thing," assistant coach Jeff Curtis said. "Most of them had no power and were wondering how long it was going to last. Were we going to have school? We had practice at 5 p.m. in helmets and told the kids we were playing St. Paul's."
Perhaps more frightening for Curtis than playing St. Paul's on 24 hours notice was playing Plant in its season opener.
"St. Paul's (which plays Tallahassee's Lincoln in the same doubleheader) was in the same boat. They wanted to get a game under their belt," Jeff Curtis said. "Really, although it was hot, the weather was nice. No rain and only a few clouds."
Despite the bright spotlight on the matchup with Plant on Friday, Jeff Curtis insisted that preparation-wise, it's a normal week. The team swapped film with Plant on Hudl, with Curtis sending its jamboree game against Covington in addition to game film against St. Paul.
In exchange, Curtis received film from Plant's kickoff classic scrimmage against Boyd Anderson and its opening win against Jesuit.
After digesting the film, Jeff Curtis came away impressed with the team's size on the offensive line.
"We've played a few Florida teams in the past, and the difference with Plant is their size on the offensive line. Miami Beach had the skill, Gainesville had the skill, but these guys are really big across the board," he said. "It's a typical Florida powerhouse football team."
Plant's offensive line may cause some problems for Curtis' inexperienced defensive line, which returns one starter in Cyle Cortez
. The Patriots are loaded in the secondary and at linebacker, with the likes of Duke Riley
, Eric Thomas
, Richard Allen
and Jacolby Cooper
Jeff Curtis likened Plant to a hybrid between two Louisiana powers.
"Schematically, they're not West Monroe, but size and speed they compare to West Monroe. Schematically, they're a little more toward Neville," he said.
West Monroe is Louisiana's defending state champion in Class 5A, while Neville took home the state's Class 4A crown, making Curtis' description of Plant one that resonates well for any Pelican State football fan.
Given that lofty comparison, Curtis enters as the favorite, ranked No. 8 in the Xcellent 25
—two spots ahead of Plant.
Led by Anthony Taylor
and Brandon Godfrey
, 6-7 and 6-4 respectively, Curtis has some giants of its own on the offensive line.
It also boasts one of the deepest groups of running backs in the country, with Sherman Badie
, Tevin Horton
, Raekwon James
and Brandon Porter
Given that Plant's offense struggled against Jesuit, a few Curtis touchdowns in the first half could have it in prime position to win. If it can force Plant to play from behind and throw against its secondary, it could minimize Plant's dominant run-blocking offensive line.
Even if Curtis falls behind early, it won't be shell-shocked. The Patriots will stick to their game plan and execute.
After a week of flooding, power outages, and schedule disruptions, nothing Plant does will completely rattle Curtis.