The Class 4A state championship game between the No. 1-seeded Carencro Bears and the No. 2-seeded Edna Karr Cougars features two team that have dominated in the playoffs.
The Bears will be tackling the four-time reigning state champion, a team with an abundance of Division I college football talent again, Tuesday night at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches.
A huge key for the Bears will be taking care of the football, as coach Tony Courville and his staff understand just how dangerous the Cougars are.
“We’ve got to play a clean game,” Courville said. “We can’t give them anything. A turnover to that football team could give something, and they’ll take advantage of it. We say nothing cheap. We can’t put the ball on the ground so they get a short field. We can’t give them one of those things because they take advantage of it. They’ve done it all year long.”
The ideal game for the Bears might to be a low-scoring affair where they can keep the explosive Cougars offense off the field.
“I hope it’s not like that (high-scoring),” Courville said. “I think the higher the score in the game is more conducive for them than us, so if we can keep them in the 20s and 30s, that’s just my opinion (that would be favorable). We have to try to get some stops, and we have to take advantage if they put a ball up in the air, we’ve got to get it.
“If a ball’s on the ground, we’ve got to get it. We’ve got to take advantage of their gimmes. That’d be nice, but they’re a well-coached, good, athletic team.”
The Cougars have talent on both sides of the ball, starting with their offense led by sophomore quarterback Anterious Samuels and wide receivers Aaron Anderson and Destyn Hill.
“When you turn on the film, it doesn’t take long to see the tremendous athletes (Edna Karr) has on the field,” Courville said. “On both sides of the ball, on the skill positions and the back end of the defense. It’s all really fast, athletic players. The lineman are big, athletic players who are physical on both sides of the ball.
“When you get to the offense, those receivers kind of look like clones of each other. They’re all relatively the same size, they’re all fast. You think you’re going to take away one or two of them, the other one’s going to hurt you. We have a tall task at hand, but we’re working to be able to try to stop them.”
The Bears defense has been especially dominant in the playoffs, having only allowed 28 points in three playoff games thanks largely to their seniors leaders safety Bailey Despanie and linebacker Dylan Smith.
“They have definitely stepped it up,” Courville said about his defense. “They’ve stepped it up tremendously during the playoff run so far. A lot of these guys are in the second year in this scheme. The secondary has gotten tremendously better from game-to-game, the defensive front has stepped up and our linebackers have been very consistent all year long. We have real good athletes right there.”
The Bears plan to stick to their usual philosophy of feeding running back tandem of Kendrell Williams and Traylon Prejean. This will be the second time this season the Cougars have faced a veer offense.
“We like to control the ball and the clock, obviously,” Courville said. “We’ll be patient getting the 4 yards a pop or whatever and by keeping their offense off the field. (Karr) played John Curtis, who runs the veer. We run a little different variation of it. (Curtis) runs a lot of inside veer, and we don’t do all those things. They’ve seen the veer this year and beat Curtis by three.”
Courville said the Bears understand the moment.
“The last couple days we’ve had coaches and former players come talk to the team about how they’re carrying the torch now,” he said. “They understand where we’re at. They’re very excited about this opportunity. I love this team a lot, and to be able to spend this extra week with them is a blessing.
“They like being around each other, so to be around each other one more time and to end it on the state championship is wonderful for this team.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a storybook season.
“We started on June 9,” Courville said. “And to get all the way to Dec. 29 has been a tough task on this team and all the other teams too to maneuver through all the craziness that we’ve had. I’m very proud, but I understand we have one more step to take.”
“I’m sure the smiles might turn into some tears, and that would be great. Last week it was great to see those guys all sharing that fun and jubilation together because that’s what it’s all about when it’s said and done. It’s still a football game, but it’s one of those to where it’ll be another chapter in their life, and you want to make it a positive end.”
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