Wildcats, Dogs start season a day early

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / September 1, 1999

RESERVE – One of the oldest rivalries in the state will kick off the prep football regular season in the River Parishes Thursday night.

East St. John will host Lutcher at Joe Keller Stadium at 7 p.m. It will bethe 70th meeting between the two schools in a series dating back to 1925.

The Wildcats lead the series, 42-25-2, and have won the last three meetings.

Both teams are coming off victories in the Roussel’s Goodyear River Parishes Jamboree last week. East St. John defeated St. Charles Catholic,10-6, while Lutcher beat Hahnville, 27-14.

East St. John got its running game untracked against the Comets, gaining100 yards on 16 carries. Chuckie Burl led the way with 84 yards on 12attempts.

“We know what we can do passing, we wanted to working on our running game,” East St. John coach Ronnie Stephens said. “Burl ran the ball hard.”Floyd Smith completed 7 of his 11 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

The majority of the passes went to the tight ends with Louis Gardner catching 3 passes for 38 yards and Darwin Pittman 2 for 30 and a touchdown.

“We know that Roydell (Williams) and Chris (Bush) can catch the football,” Stephens said. “When we get into district play, people are going to try tostop those two receivers. When they do, it will leave the inside game open.If we can find them, it will be a plus for us. Both had good games and willmake the offense better.”Stephens said the key offensively Thursday will be how effective the Wildcats can run the football.

“We have to establish the run,” Stephens said. “If we can’t run thefootball, they will pin their ears back and come after us.”Defensively, Stephens said his team has to contain Lutcher quarterback Thomas Ricks and running back Damian Ursin. Ricks completed 2 of his 4passes against Hahnville Friday for 20 yards. Ursin carried seven timesfor 45 yards and two touchdowns.

“We have to control their quarterback and keep him the pocket,” Stephens said of Ricks. “He’s the key for them.”Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said the key for his team will be stay away from mistakes, especially turnovers. In last year’s game, the Bulldogsturned the ball over twice in the third quarter, setting up scoring drives of 2- and 1-yard for the Wildcats in a 19-13 loss.

“We made mistakes and they capitalize on them,” Detillier said. “That’spart of the game but we need to stay away from that.”Because of the shorten week, preparations had to be changed. Stephens hadhis team practicing on Sunday while Detillier was going to add to practices Monday and Tuesday.

Detillier said the game takes on even more importance this year because of the way the playoff bracket will be based on power points. The Bulldogswill also be out to break their losing streak against the Wildcats.

“They seem to have our number,” Detillier said. “Hopefully, we can put anend to that.”Stephens said that he knows that extending that streak will not be an easy task.

“We are playing a real good football team,” Stephens said. “They were realimpressive in the jamboree. We know they are going to be on a high for us.It’s a big ballgame for both teams.”

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