McDonogh 35 gets second shot at Karr in 4A semifinals

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Watch the replay: Karr’s regular season win over McDonogh 35

Life is all about second chances.

For McDonogh 35, it is a welcome opportunity as the third-seeded Roneagles (12-1) battle second-seed and unbeaten Karr (12-0) Friday night at 7 p.m. at Behrman Stadium. You can watch the game live at SportsNOLA.com.

The Cougars advanced with a 59-13 drubbing of Benton. Since beating Brother Martin 55-46 on Sept. 15, Karr has completely dominated opponents. The closest anyone has come was the 44 point win over McDonogh 35 in the first matchup, a 56-12 win on Nov. 3, the lone loss for the Roneagles this season.

The Roneagles advanced with a thrilling 26-25 win at Plaquemine in the quarterfinals. Head coach Wayne Reese was pleased with his team.

“We made mistakes in the first half and fell behind but I cannot be happier with the way our kids fought back,” Reese said. “Winning on the road is tough and they were a good team.”

Karr has dominated the series recently, winning the last eight meetings, including the win earlier this season.

In that game, McDonogh 35 took a 12-7 lead in the second quarter on touchdown runs by quarterback LeJohn Howard and Eddie Tillman. Then, the Cougars took total control.

Karr took the lead for good with 9:18 left in the first half and never looked back. Senior quarterback Aldon Clark ran for two touchdowns. An Arkansas State commit, Clark also had three touchdowns passing.

Karr’s defense then asserted itself, coming up with a pair of interceptions of LeJohn Howard, with Darnell Bridges returning one 38 yards for a touchdown ehile Chaz Bates returned the second inside the 10-yard line to set up a three-yard touchdown run by Ronnie Jackson as Karr took a commanding 35-12 by halftime.

Karr maintained its dominance to start the second half, increasing the lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Santee Marshall to make it 42-12 and pulled away. Marshall would score again later.

Clark completed 10-of-13 passes for 268 yards for three touchdowns and one interception. Anthony Spurlock caught three of those passes for 126 yards and two scores. Marshall finished with 69 yards on 13 carries.

For the Roneagles, Howard was 8-for-18 for 81 yards and three interceptions. Tillman rushed eight times for 79 yards. Lawrence Keys finished with five catches for 55 yards.

Last year, Karr prevailed 27-20 over McDonogh 35. The previous six wins for the Cougars over the Roneagles were all decisive.

The Cougars won 37-19 in 2014, 34-16 in 2013, 35-8 in 2012, 35-6 in 2011, 34-9 in the regular season and 19-8 in the state playoffs in 2010. The last win for the Roneagles over Karr was a 21-6 victory in 2009.

The Roneagles are led by Howardm a junior, and senior blue chip athlete Brad Stewart. McDonogh 35 averages 29.8 points per game while allowing just 14.8 points per contest.

Aside from Stewart, the defense has been fast and tough, led by Glen Brown at outside linebacker, who is playing superbly. Senior linebacker Terrell Debose is playing extremely well. Junior safety Joe Foucha has been superb in the deep.

Karr has the most potent offense in the state, averaging 54.3 points per game. The Cougars have scored 50 or more points in 10 straight games, an astonishing statistic. Karr has allowed just 13.3 points per contest, posting four shutouts. The Cougars have not allowed more than 13 points in each of their last nine games, allowing just 5.8 points per game during that impressive stretch for head coach Brice Brown.

“We have been real consistent,” Brown said. “We are facing a good opponent who knows what we do. We know what they do. I don’t expect it to be anything like the first time we played them. It should be very competitive. We have to remain focused. We cannot look ahead to playing in the title game or to Neville. We must focus on McDonogh 35.”

Clark has completed 76 percent of his passes, completing 123-of-162 attempts for 2,986 yards and 38 touchdowns. He has rushed 75 times for 665 yards and 12 scores. Santee Marshall is the leading rusher with 106 carries for 1,231 yards and 13 touchdowns while Ronnie Jackson has 35 carries for 350 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“It all starts with Aldon,” Brown said. “He has evolved as an outstanding player. He is a true team player. It shows each week with how cool he is before the game, in the huddle and running the offense. When you have a guy like that, you just lean on him. We put the ball in the hands of our best player every week.”

Dai’jean Dixon is the leading receiver with 34 receptions for 842 yards and eight touchdowns, Rayce McMath has 25 catches for 730 yards and 12 touchdowns and Romad Jefferson has 24 receptions for 530 yards and seven scores.

“Dixon and McMath have been so good all season long,” Brown said. “Both were banged up the first time we faced them. Being healthy will help us but I know they are healthier as well. We’re going to throw it around.”

The Karr defense is led by senior linemen Tyrone Casby and Demmond Harris. Casby had 2.5 sacks in the win over Benton.

“Our defense has gotten better all season long,” Brown said. “We faced real good teams and offenses in St. Paul’s, Landry-Walker and Brother Martin early on. They scored on us but we got better from it. All three made deep runs in the playoffs. We feel that prepared us well. We have grown up, led by Casby and Harris. We have to win with defense Friday night.”

Aside from the 56 points allowed to Karr in the first matchup, the Roneagles allow just 11.4 points per game.

McDonogh 35 head coach Wayne Reese learned much from the first meeting with Karr.

“We got off to a good start against them the first time but you cannot turn the ball over and have a chance against them,” Reese said. “They have a bunch of really good skill players and they are tough to stop. You have to slow them down and we have to score.”

Reese knows that his team is the underdog.

“They have beaten us a lot in recent years and they beat us this year,” Reese said. “We know everyone expects them to win but that is okay. They are really good. We just have to be better Friday night.”

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

CAO/Executive Producer

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College Hall of Fame, Professional Bowlers Tour) and many state and local awards for his work in the field, Ken currently serves as Sports Director of WGSO, 990 AM and hosts award-winning shows, including Ken Trahan’s Original Prep Football Report and The Three Tailgaters Show with Ed Daniels and Rick Gaille. In 1988, Ken was chosen by the Professional Bowlers Association to receive its annual radio broadcasters national award for…

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