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Old district foe greets ESJ in bi-district

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 11, 1998

RESERVE – East St. John will face a familiar opponent as it opens thestate prep football playoffs Friday night.

The Wildcats will host Covington in the bi-district playoffs at 7 p.m. inJoe Keller Stadium. The Wildcats and Lions were district mates in theearly 1990s when East St. John was in the Northshore district.East St. John heads into the contest as the second place team fromDistrict 6-5A. The Wildcats finished the season at 7-2 overall afterdefeating Thibodaux, 41-14, last Friday.

Floyd Smith completed 11 of his 17 passes against the Tigers for 194 yards and three touchdowns. Smith looked to a variety of targets,completing three passes each to Chris Bush, Roy Del Williams and Darwin Pittman. Bush had 67 yards and two touchdowns receiving while Williamshad 59 yards and a score and Pittman added 48 yards.

The Wildcats dominated in all three phases of the game. Brandon Masonreturned five kicks for 151 yards and Billy Hogan connected on field goals of 31 and 28 yards. The defense held the Tigers to 147 total yards, 129 ofwhich came on the Tigers’ two scoring drives in the second half.

“Brandon did a good job returning kicks and setting up our first two touchdowns,” East St. John coach Ronnie Stephens said. “Defensively, weplayed well and we hit the big plays offensively. Overall it was a goodeffort.”Smith completed the regular season as the leading passer in the River Parishes, connecting on 81 of 162 passes for 1,459 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Both Williams and Bush were among the leading receivers, combining for over 1,000 yards through the air. Williams caught 36 passes for 717 yardsand seven touchdowns. Bush had 27 receptions for 475 yards and alsoscored seven times.

The Wildcats will face a Covington team coming off a 31-14 win over Mandeville last Friday. The win clinched second place in District 5-5A forthe Lions who finished 8-2 overall.

Mike Senac ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries Friday night. The senior running back was one of the leading rushers in the metroarea, carrying the ball 204 times for 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns while adding six two-point conversions.

Brad Fussell added a touchdown run and completed six passes for 137 yards. The Lions play out of the I with off-set backs.The Lions defense, second in District 5-5A with 155 points allowed, gave up 187 yards in total offense to Mandeville while forcing four turnovers.

That defense, which uses multiple fronts, is led by senior linebackers George Bezue and Trey Riles and defensive end Charles Young.

“They are a good football team,” Stephens said. “They are fundamentallysound and have good athletes on both sides of the football.

“We expect a hard-nose football game. They get after you for 48 minutes.”Stephens said the key to the game is the Wildcats’ ability to do what they have done all season – make the big play.

“If they take the big play away, we are going to struggle offensively,” Stephens said. “We have to have big plays. We have done it all year longand we have big play people. If we can get them, we will be in good shapeoffensively. If not, the defense the defense will have to give us anopportunity in the fourth quarter to win it.”The winner will face the winner of the Bonnabel-Terrebonne contest in the regional playoffs next Friday.

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