ESJ, St. James look to rebound

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 8, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / September 8, 1999

RESERVE – East St. John and St. James have more in common than justtheir mascots this week.

Both teams are coming off losses to River Parishes rivals in the final minutes in Week 1. East St. John dropped a 35-28 decision to LutcherThursday night while St. James fell to West St. John, 20-14, Friday. ThisFriday, they will both be trying to overcome those losses as they square off at St. James.Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.In other Class 5A matchups Friday, Destrehan will host Douglass while Hahnville hosts Ponchatoula. Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.The East St. John-St. James matchup will be the first meeting betweenthe schools since 1992. St. James won that year, 14-0, and leads theoverall series which dates back to 1934, 5-3. The teams have become twoof the most successful programs in the area since then with St. Jamesmaking two Class 3A championship game appearances and East St. Johnhaving advanced to the playoffs each of the last three years.

Both teams moved the ball in their games last week but failed to cash in.

St. James gained 280 total yards but turned the ball over four times. Threetimes in the first half the Wildcats drove into West St. John territory andfailed to score, fumbling twice and turning the ball over on downs once.

Instead, the Wildcats had only a 7-0 lead at halftime and the Rams scored on their first two possessions of the second half to gain control of the game’s momentum.

East St. John had the same problem, out-gaining Lutcher 391-304 but theWildcats turned the ball over four times. The Wildcats failed to score infour trips into Lutcher territory in the first half and gave up two touchdowns in the final minute to go into halftime tied at 21. A fumbleand a pass interference call in the end zone on fourth down set up the Bulldogs’ winning score with two minutes to play.

Both teams had positives come out of the games, however. East St. John’srunning game, which had been a concern, got going behind Chuckie Burl who gained over 120 yards. Floyd Smith passed for 208 yards, 163 of whichwere to Roydell Williams. The two combined on three touchdown passes.St. James also got its running attack untracked as Montrell Steib (95yards), Travell Steib (91) and Byron Keller (50) combined for over 230 yards on the ground.

With the teams evenly matched, turnovers could decide which one will be back on track and which one will have to overcome a 0-2 start.

The area’s third Wildcats team, Destrehan, also had problems scoring despite moving the ball effectively, turning the ball over three times while gaining 319 yards. But the Wildcats came away with an impressive21-0 victory over Slidell thanks to a defense that held the Tigers to 82 total yards. Deron Love followed his impressive showing in the RiverParishes Jamboree with another one Friday, scoring twice. Ivan Mashiapassed for over 190 yards, including a 67-yard strike to Fred Smith.

The defense’s performance Friday does not spell good news for a Douglass team that was held to minus 23 yards in offense in a 50-0 loss to Carver Thursday. The Bobcats managed five first down while turning the ball overeight times and losing 73 yards rushing.

The Bobcats are led by senior quarterback Kenneth Celestine, a three-year starter, and wide receivers James Pernell and Arielle Johnson but are small and lack depth up front. The defense is led by senior defensivelineman James Lewis.

Destrehan’s cross-parish rival, Hahnville, is coming off a 42-6 victory over Sarah Reed in Lou Valdin’s first game as coach. The Tigers scored onfour of their first six possessions and held Reed to 40 yards in the first half. Hahnville out-gained the Olympians, 483-220, for the game and wereled by quarterback Dawan Landry who passed for 181 yards. The Tigers had302 yards on the ground while the defense did not allow a score until the fourth quarter.

Hahnville will be taking on a Ponchatoula team that was ranked 15th in the state in Class 5A until falling to DeLaSalle, 7-6, Friday. The GreenWave gained 225 yards in offense but fumbled four times and had the attempt at the game-tying extra point in the fourth quarter blocked.

Ponchatoula is led by its defense. Both cornerback Ronald McClendon, whopossesses outstanding speed, and safety Deshaun Carter were preseason all-Louisiana Football Magazine picks while linebacker Ryan Miller was a second team selection. The line is led by seniors Jon Conley, Greg McKayand Karl Wilson.

McClendon is also the quarterback. The team’s weakness comes at itsoffensive line. Chris Hogan leads the ground attack. Hogan rushed for 87yards and a score in the loss Friday.

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