December 14, 2009

Johnson excels but Raiders fall in state finals

NEW ORLEANS -- Michigan commits Drew Dileo and Carvin Johnson were key reasons their teams reached the Louisiana Superdome to play for state championships over the weekend. But in each instance, the opposing teams walked away with the hardware.

Dileo's Baton Rouge-Parkview Baptist fell to Crowey-Notre Dame 14-7 in Friday night's Class 3A state championship game while Johnson's Metairie-Archbishop Rummel squad was defeated by West Monroe 30-0 in Saturday night's Class 5A.

In the 3A game, it was obvious Notre Dame was not going to let Dileo repeat his sophomore performance in the Superdome when he was the title-game MVP en route to the Eagles' state championship win over Westlake in 2007. Facing one of the state's top defenses, regardless of class, Dileo was regularly double-teamed or had a spy watching his every move.

Dileo did figure into the Eagles' lone score. On the game's first play, he took a toss from the quarterback and then pitched it to Brooks Godbery on a reverse for an 80-yard touchdown run. But that proved to be the only score and Dileo was left to lament what might have been considering his team's missed on opportunities early.

"In the first half, we killed ourselves with turnovers, a fumble, an interception and big penalties inside the red zone," Dileo said. "Just little things. It's terrible because we preach every week to work on the little things. We just didn't."

Parkview (12-2) trailed 14-7 at the half, but Dileo and Co. had reason to think they could prevail.

"We knew against the best defense we played all year that we left 14 points on field in the first half," Dileo said. "We knew we still had a shot only down seven. We came out of the locker room saying, 'Hey, in '07 we were by a touchdown.' Until the clock hit zero we still had a chance.

"The emotions are what you expect. You go in expecting to win. If you don't expect to win then you are definitely going to lose. They played the defense we thought they were going to play. They ran the offensive plays we thought they were going to run. We just didn't execute tonight."

Dileo finished with just five yards rushing on five carries in the title game. He also had five receptions for 30 yards. Dileo came into the title game with 719 yards rushing and 541 receiving on the season.

Johnson was instrumental in Rummel's unlikely run to Superdome because it was defense and special teams that literally carried the Raiders to a 14-0 record before meeting with 14-0 West Monroe. Johnson is the star safety and an accomplished kick returner for his team.

But West Monroe was unlike any team Rummel had faced. And following the win it became apparent that West Monroe is without question Louisiana's top-ranked team. But for a while there, especially with West Monroe up just 9-0 at the half, the Raiders were in the hunt.

"I was very proud of that," Rummel coach Jay Roth said. "We wanted a close game at half. We had a close game until the fourth quarter. I believe it was a two-score game right until the fourth quarter, 16-0. But Turner just made plays."

"I guess they just outplayed us a little bit," Johnson said. "Like coach said, they were breaking tackles. We were there in the first half. I guess in the second half we just got a little tired."

Johnson was selected as Rummel's player of the game and was his team's leading tackler with seven total tackles, including two solos. The three-year starter put together an impressive senior campaign. Entering the title game, he recorded 56 tackles, four interceptions, one forced fumble and two passes breakups. He returned 17 punts for 213 yards (12.5 yards per average), and one touchdown in the regular season. His 64-yard punt return for a touchdown ignited Rummel to a 14-7 win over Jesuit in the second round of the playoffs.

"It was a great season," Johnson said. "Coming in we knew we had a tough defense, and the offense struggled the whole season. We just wanted it and we wanted it bad. For it to end like this is bittersweet. It was a great season."

Johnson is already turning his attention to Ann Arbor.

"I like it," Johnson said of the situation he will be entering. "They've had trouble in the secondary, but that's why they recruited me ... to change it. I'm going to work hard. I'm working out, working out, working out. Getting bigger, faster."

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