John Curtis and Holy Cross will be a collision between two contrasting styles. The Patriots have perfected their old-school ground attack with the top two rushers in the Catholic League while Holy Cross employs a more modern system through the air with the league’s leading passer.
The Tigers will be looking to play spoiler against the undefeated Patriots, whose Catholic League winning streak currently stands at 22 straight games. Curtis has to be careful not to look ahead to next week’s possible showdown against undefeated Rummel, but the Patriots have never had much trouble honing in on their current opponent.
John Curtis — As most know, the quarterback spot at Curtis is more about the ability to run rather than throw, and senior Collin Guggenheim is exceedingly adept at the former. The Army commitment is the Catholic League’s second-leading rusher with 620 yards on 64 carries, and he’s also the league leader in touchdowns rushes with 13. Now in his fourth year as a starter, Guggenheim operates the Patriots’ veer-option offense to near perfection seemingly always making the right read while rarely putting the ball on the turf. As a passer, he’s completed 57.8% of his 45 attempts for 393 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Holy Cross — In complete opposition to the plan of attack at the quarterback spot for Curtis, Holy Cross is the Catholic League’s top passing team. Junior John Dade Wooton leads the group with 1,482 yards and 14 touchdowns completing 60.4% of his 169 attempts. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder gained a few games of experience last season, which has seemed to pay dividends this year as Wooton has looked comfortable in the pocket for the vast majority of the season.
That wasn’t so much the case last week as he finished with just 122 through air, but precisely no one has had any significant success against Rummel’s defense this season. Wooton is a pure pocket passer who has good accuracy down the field, and he could have a chance to have a big day against a Curtis pass defense that has been a bit vulnerable at times this season.
John Curtis — Seniors Corey Wren and Shane Goins along with Guggenheim make for a more than formidable trio in the backfield. If Wren ever gets to the corner, start playing the fight song because no one is catching the Georgia commitment. The speedster not only leads the Catholic League in rushing with 754 yards, he also leads the league in average per carry with a staggering 14.2 yards per tote.
If that didn’t make the Patriots’ backfield potent enough, Goins is second in the league in yards per carry at 12.0 on 40 carries for 478 yards. And just for good measure, Guggenheim is third in the league with 9.7 yards per rush.
Holy Cross — Running back-by-committee is the approach for Holy Cross, and senior Celven Hulbert leads the group with 277 yards and 3 touchdowns on 54 carries. He’s more of the compact, between-the-tackles runner while junior Amiri Franklin comes in as a shifty change-of-pace back. He’s second on the squad with 227 yards and 2 touchdowns on 28 rushes, and junior Jaden Handy — perhaps the offense’s most versatile weapon with a 3-star ranking on 247sports.com — has 123 yards with 5 touchdowns on 41 rushes.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
John Curtis — With so much action on the ground, there isn’t much left to go around for the Patriot receivers. Sophomore Javon Davis is tops in the group with 137 yards and 1 touchdown on 9 catches, but sophomore tight end Connor Orgeron isn’t far behind him with 126 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 grabs. Wren is actually third on the team with 107 yards on four catches, and while senior Joel Taylor has just 85 yards receiving on the season, he does have the ability to make plays in the Patriots’ passing game.
Holy Cross — This unit gives Wooton plenty of options with four players in the Catholic League’s top nine receivers including the top pass-catcher 3-star Tyler Kirkwood. The senior’s 33 receptions for 626 yards is a full 158 yards ahead of 2nd place and he also leads the league in touchdown catches with 2. Those advantages would have been even more significant, but Kirkwood finished last week with 0 catches after a few were called back on penalties including one over 40 yards.
Juniors Jalen Johnson and the aforementioned Jaden Handy check in at Nos. 5 and 7 on the leaderboard, and both can be extremely dangerous after the catch. Senior Alondre Wells is the other option for the Tigers, and the trio outside of Kirkwood has combined for 778 yards with 7 touchdowns on 55 catches.
John Curtis — Every power run game starts up front, and this group large with a nasty, physical mean streak. They know they’re going to run it about 50 times coming into every game, and they enjoy getting downhill wearing their opponent down over the course of a game. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound senior Robbie Pizzolato is the leader of the group, and he recently reported interest from Southeastern with offers from Judson and Friends University.
Holy Cross — This group has given Wooton time in the pocket for the majority of the season, but there were a few difficulties last week giving up five sacks against a fierce Rummel defensive line. Tulane commitment Josh Remetich and the rest of the Tiger offensive front have another tough test ahead of them against a defensive front that includes the Catholic League’s leading sacker.
John Curtis — That aforementioned league-leading sacker is Tulane commitment Angelo Anderson. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound has eight quarterback takedowns coupled with a league-leading 14 tackles for loss while leading the team in tackles with 47, and he can be an absolute force off the edge combining his power and speed.
If the plan is just to run opposite of Anderson, that probably won’t work either as fellow senior end Marquis Martin is third in the league in tackles for loss with nine, and tied for fifth in sacks with four. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder has received a bit of college interest but is far too underrated in my book. Next to him is another potential college player in 6-foot, 325-pound Elinus Noel III at tackle along with another stout tackle in senior Joseph Kreger.
Holy Cross — This group has set the tone at the line of scrimmage for a defense that has been well above average all season long. Junior Barryn Sorrell is usually the most disruptive of the group as the only member of the unit with a sack this season — two to be exact. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder is also sixth on the team in tackles with 22, and 6-foot, 250-pound Josh Guillory has also shown he can make plays with 18 tackles and a tackle for loss.
John Curtis — This unit is home to the Patriots’ second-leading tackler on the season in junior Kylin White. The 6-foot, 215-pounder wasn’t very well-known coming into the season, but his production has spoken for itself with 45 tackles, 4 sacks and a quarterback hurry. Senior Matthew Jayne is also one of Curtis’ leaders, and he’s still third on the team in tackles with 36 despite missing a some time early in the season.
Holy Cross — The Tigers just get strong as you head deeper into the secondary, and the linebacker unit has the team’s best player in Louisiana Tech linebacker commitment Tyler Grubbs. He leads the team in tackles with 50, and also has two sacks, two tackles for loss and an interception for a touchdown. Junior Luke St. Amant is also always active with 29 tackles and junior Aiden Patcheco seems to always put himself in the right places at the right times. He has 18 tackles, but leads the team in sacks with six while also recording two tackles for loss and two interceptions.
John Curtis — The two top players to watch out for in the Patriots’ secondary are senior Dante Thomas and junior Kerry McMillion. Thomas is a Division I prospect with a few offers on the table including UNLV, and he stepped up with two interceptions last week against Jesuit. He’s now tied for the team lead in picks with McMillion with three and leads the teaming pass breakups with six.
Holy Cross — This is the deepest unit of the Tigers’ defense with a host of impact players, particularly at the safety spots with a trio of key guys. Senior Colby Brown is second on the team in tackles with 44 and also has an interception with a forced fumble. Junior Kolbe Cage leads the team in interceptions with three including one for a touchdown against Warren Easton, and Connor Wensel is fifth on the team in takedowns with 27.
John Curtis — The Patriots have one of the better kickers not only in the league, but in the state in senior Austin McCready. He’s capable of connecting from about 45 yards out, and also handles punting and kickoff duties for the Patriots. As far as returners, Wren is always a threat to take it the distance when he gets his hands on the ball.
Holy Cross —
Sophomore Eli LaFrance handles kicking duties for the Tigers and he’s been reliable on extra points making 26-of-27, but is only 1-for-4 on field goals. He also kicks off for Holy Cross, but Wooton surprisingly takes over as the primary punter. In the return game, Franklin and Johnson have both shown big-play potential with their elusiveness and speed.