Wildcats Use Spring To Adjust To Changes

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 1, 1998

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / June 1, 1998

RESERVE – An impressive effort against Archbishop Shaw capped East St. John’s spring football season Friday night.

The defense, playing under a new system, gave up a couple of big plays late but also forced five turnovers, including a fumble recovered in the endzone for a touchdown.

Shaw got on the scoreboard early on a 95-yard touchdown pass and a safety. East St. John came back with the fumble recovery and a 91-yardtouchdown run by Chuckie Burl.

The Wildcat defense then came up with a number of big plays to shut down the Shaw offense. Greg Gathers was all over the field, getting two sacksand forcing and recovering a fumble. Samson Monica added a fumblerecovery at the East St. John 5-yard line.The Shaw defense also held the East St. John offense in check before theEagles scored on a 7-yard run. East St. John came back as Floyd Smith tookthe Wildcats down the field, connecting with Roydell Williams for a 27- yard gain to the Shaw 41.

That combination would click again two plays later as Williams caught the pass inside the 10-yard line, spun away from a defender and went into the endzone for a 28-yard scoring play.

Shaw later scored on runs of 75 and 14 yards before both teams scored three times in red zone drills. East St. John got its first score on a 20-yard pass from Smith to Williams.

Brandon August followed with a 1-yard run and Smith capped it off with a 20-yard scramble.

“The defense played well,” East St. John coach Ronnie Stephens said.”Offensively, the longer we played, the better we got. I was pleased withthe effort. The kids played hard and Shaw played hard. We got a lot ofpositive things out of it.”This spring was a big one for the Wildcats coming off a 10-1 season in 1997. The team changed coaches from Lou Valdin to Stephens anddefensive coordinators from Valdin to Amos Jones.

Going into the spring, Stephens said he knew defense was going to be a strength with eight starters back. As for the new system, Stephens saidthe players took right to it.

The Wildcats also return Williams, an all-district selection at wide receiver. Smith will look to replace Franklin McKinnis at quarterback andAugust and Burl will have to fill the void left by the loss of Juan Reese, the leading rusher in Class 5A last season.

“Smith just needs experience,” Stephens said. “He handled it well in thespring game and he will get the experience through the jamboree and non- district games.”One area where the team lacks experience is on the offensive line where only one starter returns. But overall, Stephens said he has been impressedwith the play of the offense.

“We know the areas we need to work on during the summer and in camp,” Stephens said. “You always want to be competitive and I think we aregoing to be competitive.

“If we stay healthy and have a great summer lifting weights, once we hit district, we will be able to compete. I think we have as good a shot asanybody else.

The 1998 season begins with one of the best rivalries in the area as the Wildcats travel to Lutcher.

Home games against McDonogh 35 and Warren Easton follow before the Wildcats travel to South Lafourche to open District 6-5A play.

The Wildcats then begin a three-game homestand against Terrebonne, H.L.Bourgeois and Destrehan before hitting the road against Hahnville and Central Lafourche.

The season closes with a home game against Thibodaux.

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