• 81°

St. James recognized as top boys’ prep team in New Orleans area

ST. JAMES — The St. James Wildcats clutched their first state title since 1979 when they won the 2019 LHSAA Class 3A Football Championship. In light of this accomplishment, the St. James High School Football team has been selected as the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Boys’ Prep Team of the Year.

The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects annual award winners in a variety of categories. It also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and each year’s Hall of Fame class. Overall, 24 individuals and four teams will be honored for their 2019-20 achievements. Honorees are being announced over a period of 24 days, wrapping up with the Corbett Awards for the top male and female amateur athletes in the state on June 10 and 11.

St. James, under fourth-year coach Robert Valdez, registered a perfect 15-0 record and won the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Class 3A state championship in dominating fashion with a 51-14 win over Jennings. None of the Wildcats’ five playoff victories came by fewer than 11 points and their average margin of victory in the post-season was 25.6 points. Shamar Smith, the Class 3A Offensive MVP, and Sai’Vion Jones, the 3A Defensive MVP, led the team. Smith, a senior quarterback, completed 140-of-245 passes for 2,012 yards and 17 touchdowns. As a runner, he had 207 carries for 1,267 yards and 27 TDs. Jones, a junior, finished with 102 tackles and 13 sacks.

“I’m extremely grateful and blessed,” Valdez said following the season. “This was a special season for us as a team. The players and the coaches came together and believed in what we did each week and did their very best.”

The other finalists for Greater New Orleans Boys’ Team of the Year were the Archbishop Rummel football team, the Brother Martin wrestling team and the St. Paul’s soccer team.

Rummel capped an undefeated season with the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Division I state championship. The Raiders allowed just 55 points in 10 regular-season games as they recorded five shutouts and allowed just three points in two other games. Raiders coach Nick Monica, a St. Charles Catholic alumnus and the son of Comets football coach Frank Monica, was named the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Outstanding Boys’ Prep Coach of the Year.

Brother Martin captured the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Division I state wrestling title – it was the Crusaders’ eighth title in the last nine years. St. Paul’s posted a perfect 23-0 record and won the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Division I state championship – the Wolves ended the season as the No. 1 team in the nation, according to MaxPreps.

The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee began in 1957 when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes each month. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month. To be eligible, an athlete must be a native of the greater New Orleans area or must compete for a team in the metropolitan region.

For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.