The talk around the state was whether John Curtis Christian head coach J.T. Curtis would pick up his 592nd or his record-breaking 622nd victory which would allow him to surpass the record set by Summerville High School (SC) head coach John McKissick.
However, one thing nobody could debate was the Patriots’ 41-7 victory over the previously unbeaten Cougars of Edna Karr High School to give Curtis his 622nd on-the-field victory. The Patriots amounted to 452 yards of total offense against one of the best and most talented defenses this state has to offer.
John Curtis quarterback Dagan Bruno was a huge focal point in the Patriots’ success on Friday night. The senior quarterback completed nine of his 11 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Bruno also picked up 66 yards on the ground on eight carries.
“A lot of people don’t think we spend time on our passing game but we do and we’re capable of throwing it,” Curtis said. “We got a quarterback, we got a number of receivers that can catch it and I think it really balances our offense.
John Curtis wide receiver Tyler Mitchell had a big-time game as he carved up Edna Karr’s secondary. Mitchell had three catches for 99 yards and two touchdown grabs.
To start the game, Karr decided to go for it on fourth down with a yard to go near midfield. Unfortunately for the Cougars, John Curtis linebacker Benjamin Barron and defensive back Jermal Callio stuffed the fourth-down conversion to give the Patriots good field position.
A couple of plays later, Bruno broke free right through the heart of Karr’s defense for a 38-yard gain before being tackled at Karr’s seven-yard line. A few plays later, Curtis running back Marlon Prout scored on a five-yard touchdown run to give the Patriots an early 7-0 lead with 8:05 left to play in the first quarter.
John Curtis would put some more points on the scoreboard after Bruno threw his first touchdown pass of the game on a 21-yard strike to wide receiver Xavier Brown to finish off a 10-play, 64-yard drive. Brown’s touchdown catch would make the score 14-0 in the second quarter.
John Curtis would officially break the game open when John Curtis running back Kaheam Smith scored on a 51-yard scamper untouched to extend the Patriots’ lead over the Cougars to 21-0 with 4:03 left in the first half.
John Curtis did not slack off in the second half either as they continued to outpace the Cougars. Bruno would toss his second touchdown of the game when he connected with Mitchell on a 32-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.
The Patriots would score again on their next drive to make the score 34-0 and they only needed three plays to do so. Bruno found Mitchell on a crossing route near the sidelines, who then shook off a Karr defender before racing to the endzone for his second touchdown of the game.
John Curtis fully stamped its victory when running back Jason Gabriel left everyone in the dust for a 54-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 41-0 lead.
Karr would avoid the shutout when running back Daejawn Smith scored a touchdown inside the five-yard line to account for the final margin. The touchdown was set up by Karr quarterback John Johnson as he completed five straight passes that put the Cougars on the 8-yard line.
When the final whistle blew, the John Curtis sideline with the crowd blowing horns and chanting “J.T.”
Shortly after Curtis celebrated his historic milestone with his family and his tea, he met with the media on the field. However, there was one question that was asked: “Do you have 592 wins or 622?”
“I’ll let you decide,” Curtis told the reporter.
Whatever you decide, Curtis still has won more than any other active coach in America and has consistently won games for over 50 years. Matter of fact, his win total plays second fiddle to the 28 state championships that are next to his name. Curtis also has a solid chance of winning his 29th state championship by the end of his 54th season as the head coach of John Curtis Christian School, a program that he built from the ground up.
Both Edna Karr and John Curtis will have first-round byes when the playoffs start on Nov. 9 with the Cougars as the fifth-seed and the Patriots as the sixth-seed.