The football program at John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge, La., is known for two things: running the ball and winning. Last season, it picked up a transfer that will allow it to continue to do a lot of both.
John Curtis coach J.T. Curtis is the second winningest coach in high school football history, securing 22 Louisiana state titles since 1974. His physically imposing veer option offense has been key to his success, and his offense got a big boost this season when 2010 offensive line prospect Luke Charpentier joined the team.
As a freshman, Charpentier was a starter on the varsity squad at South Lafourche High School. Because of the prestige of the John Curtis program and the potential opportunities that it presented, Charpentier transferred following his freshman season – though he would have to sit out as a sophomore. The wait was not an easy one.
"I did everything in practice. I'd go full pads and I did everything with the team but I just couldn't play," Charpentier said. "I'd get beat on all week and then I would have to miss the game."
Now that the wait is over, Charpentier has wasted no time taking out his frustrations on his opponents. He got things started in Dallas at the Herbstreit Football Classic, where John Curtis played Rivals.com's No. 1 team in the country, Euless (Texas) Trinity.
If the game were decided based on who looked better getting off the bus, Trinity would have won going away. However, the play of Charpentier – who, at 6-4 and 290 pounds, towers above his teammates – is a big reason that the Patriots hung around and looked poised for an upset for much of the game.
"That was a real good game," he said. "That was a good one to start. I thought I did real good. I thought I had a good push off the ball. They had some stunts and all that they did and different kinds of formations that they lined up in, but I think I handled it pretty good."
Though Trinity finished the game on top, 28-12, John Curtis' ball-control offense kept things interesting well into the fourth quarter. The first drive of the game, John Curtis scored and showed that it was not to be taken lightly.
"We might not be as big and as talented as teams like Trinity, but like that first quarter, 22-play drive we had against them, we just pounded it," he said. "That's what separates us and that's why we win so many state championships."
That physical mentality is something that Charpentier enjoys. However, perhaps his best asset on the field is his leadership in the huddle.
"Other than just being an offensive lineman, I motivate the whole line when we're out there and stuff doesn't go right," he said.
The Patriots have not taken any time to sulk over their opening game loss. On Thursday night they took on Baton Rouge (La.) Capitol and star 2010 quarterback prospect Terrance Broadway and came away with a win. Behind the Charpentier-led line, John Curtis put up 40 points and close to 300 yards rushing.
Already making a major impact in his first two games of the season, Charpentier is likely to be a hot target for college coaches as they continue to get their first look at the mobile big-body in game settings.
"Several scouts came in for our spring game," he said. "I had some guys at LSU that had watched and I went to the LSU camps this summer. Alabama - I went to their camp and they looked a little interested. They knew I was a junior and wanted to watch me this season."
Like many natives of Louisiana, Charpentier grew up an LSU fan. He also has family connections that are luring him to Baton Rouge.
"I would go out of state, but I was born and raised an LSU fan," he said. "I have a cousin that plays at LSU, T-Bob Hebert. That's my third cousin. His father, Bobby Hebert, he's like my third or fourth cousin. I would love to go to LSU. That's always been my No. 1 choice, but I wouldn't mind going out of state. I hope I have a lot of options because I've always wanted to play college football. That's a big reason why I went to John Curtis."
J.T. Curtis' policy is to hold on to college mail until after the season, so more recruiting news regarding Charpentier may be available later. In the meantime, Charpentier will be focused on trying to win his school's 23rd state championship.