Battle of Wildcats could decide district championship

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 14, 1998

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / October 14, 1998

RESERVE – Destrehan and East St. John may be separated by parish linesand about 15 miles of highway but that does not mean the intensity of their rivalry is lessened any.

The intensity has grown over the past two years with both teams vying for district titles. And it should be red hot this season as Destrehan travelsto Joe Keller Stadium Friday night.

Destrehan enters the game in first place in District 6-5A with a 4-1 overall record and a 3-0 mark in district. East St. John is also 4-1 and is2-1 in District 6-5A.

“It is going to be a tough game,” Destrehan coach Scott Martin said. “Itmakes it even tougher going in there and playing. Getting upset last week,they are going to be ready to play.”East St. John was beaten at home by H.L. Bourgeois, 16-7. Brandon Augustran for 101 yards but the Braves held Floyd Smith, the leading passer in the River Parishes, to just 61 yards.

The defense did its job, holding Bourgeois to 166 total yards. It was thefirst time this season that the Wildcats had allowed as many as 16 points but two errors in the kicking game set up both Bourgeois touchdowns.

“The offense ran the ball better than I thought but we didn’t play very good,” East St. John coach Ronnie Stephens said. “We made a lot ofmistakes in our kicking game that beat us. Defensively, we played goodenough to win.”Stephens said he has been impressed with the way Smith has played and said the key is that he is not throwing interceptions. Smith has thrownjust three while passing for 847 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“Floyd is doing a great job,” Stephens said. “He came in and stepped up andpicked up where Franklin (McKinnis) left off.”Keeping turnovers to a minimum will be a key this week. Five East St. Johnturnovers led to a 63-14 rout by Destrehan.

“Destrehan is Destrehan,” Stephens said. “You have to beat them. They arenot going to beat themselves. They are sound on offense, on defense and inthe kicking game. You make a mistake and they will capitalize on it. Theyhave good team speed and they react to the ball well. We are going to haveto take what they give us and play good solid defense.”Destrehan is led by its rushing attack which gained 308 yards last Friday in a 15-3 win over Central Lafourche. Karon Leobaux had 134 yards on 19carries while Traun Smith added 100 yards on 14 attempts. Leobaux hasnow rushed for 515 yards and four touchdowns on 85 carries while Smith is among the area leaders with six touchdowns.

The Destrehan defense also continues to shine, holding Central Lafourche to a field goal and 184 total yards. The defense also got the Wildcats onthe scoreboard twice with a safety by Marcus Bates and a fumble return by Lance Carter. The defense has not allowed a score in the past two games.”We played real well defensively,” Martin said. “We is coming into ourown at the right time of year.”Friday’s game will be one of the biggest of the year in District 6-5A and will go a long way to deciding the district champion. Destrehan hasdefeated East St. John each of the last two years in winning consecutivedistrict titles.

“We made a goal at the beginning of the year to be district champions and in order to be champions, you have to beat the district champions,” Stephens said.

Adding the district title into the mix just adds to the excitement already surrounding the game.

“If you want to see a good, hard-played football game, then Joe Keller Stadium is the place to be on Friday night,” Stephens said. “We are goingto be ready to play and they are too.”

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