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ESJ travels north to take on top-ranked West Monroe

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 25, 1998

RESERVE – Destrehan plays a familiar opponent while East St. John playsan opponent familiar to the rest of the state as the Class 5A quarterfinal playoffs open Friday night.

East St. John, 9-2, heads northwest to Ouachita Parish to take on the top-ranked team in the state, West Monroe. The Rebels, 12-0, have won threestate championships already this decade.

East St. John advanced to the quarterfinals by overcoming a 14-0 deficitto beat Terrebonne, 21-14, Last Friday. Floyd Smith combined with DarwinPittman for the winning score early in the fourth quarter and the defense did the rest as Charles Rayfield intercepted a pass deep in Wildcat territory in the final minutes. Tran Collins had set up the Wildcats’ first touchdown with anearlier interception. The defense allowed 277 yards rushing but held theTigers to one completion in 14 attempts and intercepted three passes.

East St. John showed a balanced attack Friday, rushing for 184 yards andthrowing for another 111. Chuckie Burl carried 18 times for 90 yardswhile Smith completed 11 of his 20 passes.

The Wildcats play a West Monroe team that has not been seriously challenged in the playoffs. The District 2-5A champions opened theplayoffs with a 52-0 win over Byrd and defeated Barbe, 54-14, last week.

The Rebels have few weaknesses. On offense, West Monroe features big-play performers Lane Laborde at quarterback and Tramissian Davis and Willis Britton at running back. On the line is guard Rodney Reed, one of thetop prospects in the state and a LSU verbal commitment.

But it is on defense that the Rebels excel. Their front line features endsBrian West, Jason LeDoux (another LSU verbal commitment) and Terrence Tarver. Linebacker Bradie James has been called by some the bestdefensive prospect in the state.

Friday’s winner will meet the winner of the Neville-Catholic game in the semifinals next Friday.

DESTREHAN – Destrehan, 9-2, travels to Tad Gormley Stadium to play Jesuit at 7:30 p.m. The Wildcats defeated the Blue Jays, 21-17, to openthe season as Traun Smith scored three touchdowns.

Jesuit is the second straight District 9-5A opponent that Destrehan will face. The Wildcats rallied from a 17-7 deficit at halftime to win 24-17 inovertime.

The defense kept the Wildcats in the game in the first half, preventing Rummel from scoring after it had reached the Destrehan 13- and 26-yard lines in the half. The Wildcats kept it up in the second half, holdingRummel to 86 total yards.

Wendell Smith finished the game with eight completions in 13 attempts for 111 yards. Smith was especially hot in the second half, completing 7of his 9 passes for 104 yards. Traun Smith caught five passes for 90yards.

Jesuit knows all about Smith, having gotten burned by him in the season opener. The Blue Jays made the playoffs as a wildcard team with a 4-5record and have beaten Salmen (27-19) and Reed (21-6) in the postseason.

The Blue Jays are also led by a running back, senior Brandt Quick. Quickwas among the Metro leaders in Class 5A, rushing for 1,040 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season. Against Reed last Friday,Quick ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. The previousweek against Salmen, he gained 206 yards on 42 attempts.

The Blue Jay defense held Reed to zero yards in the game and minus 15 yards on the ground.

That defense is led by linebacker Ryan O’Neal, the outstanding defensive player in the district in 1997 and one of the top linebacking prospects in the state. Joining O’Neal on defense is senior defensive back JosephFradella.

The Blue Jays and Wildcats have met each of the lats two years with each team winning once. The winner of Friday’s game advances to play thewinner of the Sulphur-Ruston game next Friday in the semifinals.

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