John Curtis lands seven on 2A All-State
BY MIKE STROM
WRITTEN FOR THE LSWA
BATON ROUGE – A coveted state championship may have eluded Many quarterback D.J. Palmer and John Curtis defensive end Walker Ashburn in their senior seasons. However, the honors both players earned on the Class 2A All-State football team weren’t shabby consolation prizes.
Palmer was named Outstanding Player on offense after being elected to the 30-member team as an athlete by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. Walker earned Outstanding Player on defense after being selected as a defensive lineman.
Freddie Hallman of Holy Savior Menard Catholic in Alexandria was voted the 2A Coach of the Year by a panel of sportswriters from across the state.
Palmer, 6-feet, 180 pounds with 4.6 speed in the 40, recorded monstrous numbers in leading Many to a 9-1 regular season and on to the state quarterfinals. Palmer’s athleticism was evidenced by the 3,662 yards and 51 touchdowns he accounted for with his running and passing during an 11-2 season.
In 13 games, Palmer rushed for 2,382 yards and 29 touchdowns on 274 carries and completed 84 of 133 passes for an additional 1,280 yards and 22 more touchdowns. Palmer was intercepted just five times.
Ashburn, 6-foot-3, 260 pounds with 4.7 speed in the 40, recorded 91 tackles, 17 sacks and 21 quarterback hurries in his third season as a starter for the Class 2A state runner-ups. Curtis went 9-0 in the regular season in winning the District 9-2A championship and then finished 13-1 while boasting the state’s longest active winning streak at 27 games prior to losing to Evangel in the finals.
A Nebraska commitment, Ashburn also was a starter of two consecutive state championship teams and as a sophomore earned Outstanding Player honors in the 2007 championship game.
Hallman, 53, with 26 seasons of head coaching experience and 29 total, completed the second season of his second stint at Menard by directing the Eagles to a 9-1 regular season and a runner-up finish in District 3-2A. The Eagles then won their two playoff games en route to an 11-2 overall record. Those 11 victories more than doubled Menard’s victory total from a 5-5 season in 2008.
Ashburn was among seven Curtis players chosen to the All-State first team, most of any school. Five were defenders, including middle linebacker John White (104 tackles), outside linebacker Seth Jones (60 tackles, 8 sacks, 20 quarterback hurries), cornerback Jonathan McKnight (26 tackles, four interceptions, 20 passes defensed) and safety Jordan Hanberry (50 tackles, five interceptions, three returned for touchdowns).
Offensively, tackle Luke Charpentier and running back Torrey Pierce represented the Patriots. Pierce rushed for 1,236 yards, 14 touchdowns and averaged 10.8 yards on 115 carries.
A pair of two-time All-State selections, defensive end Jermauria Rasco and wide receiver Eric Thomas, head up a four-player contingent from Evangel’s state champions. The other Eagles are defensive back Virgil Williams and kicker William Russ.
Rasco recorded 64 tackles, eight sacks and scored one defensive touchdown. Thomas caught 103 passes for 1,551 yards and 28 touchdowns. The 28 touchdowns equaled the Evangel single-season record established by former All-State receiver Abram Booty. Williams recorded 21 tackles and three interceptions while Russ hit 10 of 16 field goals with a long in the 40s.
Running back Frankie Jackson, quarterback Terrance Broadway and offensive lineman Corey White of semifinalist Capitol High Academy headline the remaining contingent of offensive players that includes Homer running back Tony Casey, DeQuincy wide receiver Caleb Kellogg and Many tight end Nic Jacobs.
Jackson rushed for 2,437 yards and 34 touchdowns on 227 carries while Broadway, a Houston commitment, completed 135 of 221 passes for 2,140 yards and 20 touchdowns. Casey rushed for 1,981 yards and 19 touchdowns on 279 carries, Kellog had 61 catches for 1,061 yards and 15 touchdowns and Jacobs, a LSU commitment, caught 13 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns in addition to being a devastating blocker.
Joining Charpentier as offensive line selections are St. Charles Catholic guard Sylvan Alaracon, Riverside tackle Dale Martin, and Rosepine center John Mark Holliday.
Also chosen in the defensive line are St. Charles Catholic tackle Nicholas Reine (86 tackles, 13.5 tackles for losses, 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble) and Opelousas Catholic defensive tackle Evan Fortier (100 tackles, 16 tackles for losses, 16.5 sacks). The other linebackers are Dunham’s Collin Ellis (63 tackles, four sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles in 8 ½ regular season games) and Sterlington’s Dylan Bardin (134 tackles, 22 for losses, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one sack).
In addition to McKnight and Hanberry of Curtis and Evangel’s Williams, the secondary features Newman defensive back Ronnie Vinson (59 tackles, two interceptions, six tackles for losses and a fumble recovery returned 100 yards for a touchdown).
Joining Russ as specialists are Menard punter Jonathan Ginsburgh (43.2 average on 34 punts, with 16 inside the 20 and six of 50 yards or longer) and Rosepine’s Gary Suydam (42.5 yards per kickoff return with two TDs).