Thursday, December 6, 2012
Finals: Best Superdome storyline?
By David Helman
What would you say is the best storyline going into state championship weekend at the Louisiana Superdome?
For my money, it's going to be the Class 4A rematch of Neville vs. Edna Karr on Friday night. The Tigers handled Karr pretty easily, 27-6, in last year's state championship game on the way to winning a second state title in three years, and a win this weekend would give Neville three of the past four.
Karr and Neville have more or less laid waste to the field in 4A this season, so there's very little doubt we're getting the best possible matchup.
The really interesting bit is how similar these two teams are. Both groups rely on seriously athletic defenses stocked with FBS prospects (see a full list of state championship prospects here), while both offenses will look to move the ball from the shotgun with a nod toward the zone read. As is often the case in Louisiana, the best players on the field will be the quarterbacks -- those neither one would play that position given the choice.
LSU commitment and Neville signal-caller John Diarse, already plenty successful at Neville, has a chance to leave an enviable legacy in his third state championship game. Diarse tallied 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in the Tigers' 31-15 win against Franklinton in 2009. Last year, as a junior, he totaled about 160 all-purpose yards and ran for a touchdown against Karr. But when Diarse gets to LSU, likely as an early enrollee in January, he's going to choose from his more natural positions of wide receiver and safety.
Karr quarterback Devante "Speedy" Noil is charged with getting the Cougars over the hump in their third consecutive state championship appearance, where they have been unable to attain a crown. Noil will hope to serve as the great equalizer for Karr, as he missed a large chunk of last year's game with an ankle injury and only accounted for 88 yards.
The nickname "Speedy" makes sense when you have a chance to watch the Cougars in person. Much like current LSU commit Jeryl Brazil, Noil needs roughly two steps to turn open space into an Edna Karr touchdown, which he has done on plenty of occasions this season. The junior has spent the vast majority of his 2012 season behind the center in the shotgun, but Karr coach Jabbar Juluke told me in the preseason that Noil might be the best wide receiver in Louisiana for the 2014 class.
Noil holds seven offers to play wide receiver in college -- all of them coming from power programs such as Alabama, LSU and Texas -- even though he only averages about five snaps per game out wide. The speedster can thank a strong camp performance this summer for that.
So, look to Class 4A. It's obviously the game with the most college talent on display, but it's got some pretty juicy storylines in its own right.