St. James High School Football Recognized as Top Boys’ Prep Team in New Orleans Area

Photo by RomaPics for the LHSAA

NEW ORLEANS (May 27, 2020) – 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. It was the school’s first state title in 40 years (1979). 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. The team was led by Shamar Smith, the Class 3A Offensive MVP, and Sai’Vion Jones, the 3A Defensive MVP. 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. 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.

Allstate Sugar Greater New Orleans Sports Awards, 2019-20

Outstanding Girls’ Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Lakenya Reed, Booker T. Washington Basketball
Outstanding Boys’ Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Nick Monica, Archbishop Rummel Football
Outstanding Female Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Angela Charles-Alfred, Xavier University Tennis
Outstanding Male Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Ja’Marr Chase, LSU Football
Outstanding Boys’ Prep Team, New Orleans: St. James High School Football
Outstanding Girls’ Prep Team, New Orleans: Metairie Park Country Day School Volleyball
Outstanding Collegiate Coach, Louisiana: Ed Orgeron, LSU Football
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Perry Clark, Tulane Basketball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Tim Floyd, UNO Basketball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Rick Jones, Tulane Baseball
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Craig Perret, Horse Racing
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Inductee: Ashley Tappin-Doussan, Swimming
Jimmy Collins Special Awards: Demario Davis, Eastbank Little League
Eddie Robinson Award: Keeshawn Davenport, UNO Basketball
Corbett Award – Female: Tonea Marshall, LSU Track & Field
Corbett Award – Male: Joe Burrow, LSU Football

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, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. 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 – the honors enter their 64th year in 2020. 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.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 96 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 86-year history. The 87th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2021. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade.