By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine
If I am a college recruiter, I’m camping out at ancient Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans Friday night. There will be talent all over the place on both sides of the football in the state quarterfinal matchup between Northwood and Brother Martin in Division I-Select.
I have seen both teams play this year and last year. They are very talented but different in terms of strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t know much about Brother Martin High School, just know that if it wasn’t for Catholic High of Baton Rouge and the Bears’ recent dominance, the Crusaders would probably have three state titles in the past five years. During that time, Brother Martin has lost to Catholic in the playoffs, either in the quarterfinals or deeper.
Brother Martin has been part of the fabled Catholic League district in New Orleans for almost a century, and it’s one of the most successful programs.
Both teams have great quarterbacks. Both are seniors who played in many big games in the past three years.
Brother Martin’s triggerman is Clayton Lonardo, who at 6-3, 210 with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash was an all-district tight end last season. This kid is a D-I prospect all day but doesn’t get talked about much. Trust me: I’ve seen him several times in the past two seasons and he’s a big-time player.
Northwood counters with Mason Welch, who in my eyes is definitely a D-I QB, standing 6-4, weighing 220 pounds, but more mobile this fall than before. He also has been the QB for the Falcons so has an edge in experience at the position, and it shows week after week. He is a great leader for coach Austin Brown’s team.
The Falcons and Crusaders are very athletic on offense.
Brother Martin is led by WR Jordan West (5-8, 180, 4.5 speed with great agility), WR/TE Ray Lotten (6-5, 230, 4.6), WR Chase Dephillips (4.5 speed) and RB Sidney Harris (5-9, 205). Brother Martin star RB Torey Lambert, a prime recruit, has been hurt most of this year and it’s uncertain if he will play in this game or not; Lambert is 6-0, 210 with 4.5 speed if healthy.
Northwood counters in skill players with sure-handed WR Marc Denison, who has 4.55 speed at 6-0, 180. The Falcons have the best two-way player in Louisiana in Mar’Jayvious Moss (5-11, 180, 4.40 speed), and two running backs who both are tough to tackle and play some defense in Fabian Sanders and Quintavion White.
Both teams have great players on defense.
Brother Martin’s top hand is four-year starting DT Brendan Leblanc (6-1, 245, 4.9 speed).
The Crusaders’ MLB, Rylon Johnson (5-11, 220), has over 100 stops – he’s a tackling machine. Other standouts are LB Jadon Weber (6-0, 210), DT Dakota Berns (6-2, 255), LB Blake Ranlett (6-2, 190), and two great cornerbacks — Troy Santa Marina (5-11, 175, 4.5 speed) and Greg Jackson (5-10, 182, 4.5 speed).
Northwood has superstars on defense who include LB Jeremiah Reed, DT Ted Jamison (5-11, 303), DE Taderius Collins (a real playmaker at 6-4, 250), and DT Jamarion Kennedy (6-4, 300) who is among the best players on the team, I think. And of course, the Falcons are anchored by one of the best defensive backs in the country, Mr. Moss.
What will be the keys to this game? Northwood must score points with big plays and get turnovers to put the offense in the red zone — like they have been doing all year.
Brother Martin needs to put together long drives and wear down Northwood on defense. The Crusaders do have more depth and players, but the Falcons can win this game if they don’t turn the ball over, pick up some turnovers and don’t let the talented QB from Brother Martin beat them with his legs on third down. This kid can run and is a tough player to prepare for.
Brother Martin overall has more talent and more depth but as far as starting talent? It’s the best 22 in Louisiana at Northwood as far as college prospects, rivaled only by Catholic-BR, Edna Karr and Ruston.
I will take Northwood in an upset – not according to the seedings, but the eyeballs.
Although the Falcons are seeded No. 5 and Brother Martin, at 7-5, is seeded 13th, most prep pickers will expect the Crusaders to move on.
Even though the seedings favor Northwood, few will join me in picking the Falcons.
Contact Lee at email@example.com