Select Division II State Championship Preview: Lafayette Christian vs. St. Thomas More

by Hunter Bower // Owner

No. 1 St. Thomas More (13-0) vs. No. 2 Lafayette Christian (11-2)

Saturday, Dec. 9 | Noon | Caesars Superdome | New Orleans, LA
Tickets | Watch – NFHS Network ($)

Distance To New Orleans: Lafayette Christian (151 miles), Acadiana (143 miles)

No. 1 St. Thomas More Cougars (13-0)

Head Coach: Jim Hightower (38th year at school, 369-105)

State Finals History: 4 state titles – 2022 (S DII); 2020 (DII); 2019 (DII); 2016 (DII) 2 runner-up finishes – 2018 (DII); 2015 (DII)

Road To The Dome:

  • Regional: Beat No. 17 Istrouma, 57-14
  • Quarterfinals: Beat No. 8 St. Michael, 49-0
  • Semi-Finals: Beat No. 5 Archbishop Shaw, 69-29

The Skinny:

Get ready for a gridiron showdown of epic proportions as St. Thomas More (STM) gears up for their sixth appearance in the LHSAA Prep Classic state championship game, showcasing a football dynasty that has dominated the past decade. Led by the legendary Hall-of-Fame coach Jim Hightower, the Cougars have cemented their status as perennial contenders, earning their ticket to the championship for the fifth time in six years after a commanding 69-29 triumph over Archbishop Shaw in the semifinals.

Coach Hightower, with an impressive second-place ranking in all-time coaching wins at 473, has been the guiding force behind STM’s championship success, securing titles in 2022, 2020, 2019, and 2016. Remarkably, 369 of those victories have come with the Cougars, solidifying his legacy as a key architect of the team’s triumphs.

This year’s Select Division II title game promises to be a thrilling rematch of the 2022 championship, where St. Thomas More emerged victorious in a record-setting 52-48 battle against Lafayette Christian. The rivalry extends beyond the championship arena, with both teams hailing from District 4-4A, consistently clashing for district supremacy and the coveted state championship gold.

Quarterback Sam Altmann has orchestrated an offensive symphony, resembling a Madden-like virtuoso with over 2,100 passing yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Supported by a multifaceted ground game that has amassed over 1,600 rushing yards and a dynamic receiving corps featuring standouts like Landon Strother and Sanders Foreman, the Cougar offense averages an impressive nearly 46 points per game.

Defensively, the Cougars have been a formidable force, allowing a mere 15 points per game. Brody Latiolais and Hayden Hernandez have been instrumental, amassing over 100 combined tackles each, ensuring that STM’s defensive prowess is as potent as their high-flying offense.

As St. Thomas More steps onto the championship stage once again, their legacy, skill, and determination are set to collide with Lafayette Christian in a clash that promises fireworks and the potential to etch another chapter in the storied history of Cougar football.

Averages: Scoring 45.6 points per game, allowing 15.6 points per game

Signature wins: Alexandria (Sept. 8); Catholic-BR (Sept. 22); Teurlings Catholic (Oct. 20); Lafayette Christian (Nov. 3); Archbishop Shaw (Dec. 1)

No. 3 Lafayette Christian Knights (11-2)

Head Coach: Hunter Landry (1st year at school, 11-2)

State Finals History: 4 state titles – 2020 (DIII); 2019 (DIII); 2018 (DIV); 2017 (DIV) 2 runner-up finishes –  2022 (S DII); 2021 (DIII)

Road To The Dome:

  • Regional: Beat No. 14 Peabody, 54-20
  • Quarterfinals: Beat No. 11 McDonogh #35, 57-21
  • Semi-Finals: Beat No. 7 Teurlings Catholic, 42-35

The Skinny:

Put the football down, and Lafayette Christian Academy (LCA) steps onto the field with the intensity of champions. In a remarkable streak, they find themselves in the state championship game for the seventh consecutive year, fueled by a hunger to etch their names in history once more. This time, under the guidance of a new maestro, Head Coach Hunter Landry, the Knights are poised to embark on a quest for their fifth state title.

Landry, the latest in a line of coaching luminaries, takes the reins in his inaugural year at LCA, charged with preserving the rich legacy of Knights’ football. Formerly the offensive coordinator, Landry’s strategic prowess and familiarity with the team set the stage for a compelling championship clash.

At the heart of the Knights’ arsenal is the indomitable Senior QB Ju’Juan Johnson, a Louisiana high school football legend. Just two weeks ago, Johnson etched his name in the record books, surpassing a 24-year-old Career Total Yards record held by Brock Berlin. With 13,662 career total yards and 164 total touchdowns, Johnson, an LSU commit, is the linchpin of the LCA offensive juggernaut.

Supported by stellar talents like Brennan Walker and T.J. Marzell in the receiving corps and the dynamic Jalen Noel in the backfield, the Knights boast a high-octane offense that’s proven formidable all season. While a regular-season clash with St. Thomas More ended in a narrow 44-40 defeat for the District 4-4A crown, LCA is determined to flip the script in the championship showdown.

As Lafayette Christian Academy readies for battle, the Knights carry not just the weight of their legacy but the aspirations of a community hungry for another triumph. With Coach Landry at the helm and a stellar cast of athletes, the Knights are set to leave an indelible mark on the Louisiana high school football landscape. The stage is set, and Lafayette Christian is primed for a championship spectacle that promises to be nothing short of historic.

 Averages: Scoring 50.5 points per game, allowing 21.2 points per game

Signature wins: Acadiana (Sept. 1); Woodlawn-BR (Sept. 8); Jesuit (Sept. 15); Teurlings Catholic (Oct. 12 & Dec. 2);