Wildcats taking on olf time rival

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 13, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / October 13, 1999

RESERVE – East St. John will take a break from District 7-5A play thisweek to play a long-time rival.

The Wildcats (3-3 overall, 2-1 in District 7-5A) will host Neville Friday night at Joe Yenni Stadium at 7 p.m. While the schools have not met thisdecade, it was a hot rivalry in the 1950s and 1960s when Neville, coached by Bill Ruple, and Joe Keller’s Reserve Wildcats met three times in eight years for the Class 2A state championship. Neville took the title in 1955(27-14) and 1962 (14-7) while Reserve triumphed in 1958 (25-14).

Both teams would later go on to win state championships in the 1980s and 1990s with East St. John in 1980 and Neville in 1983, 84 and 95.No state titles are on the line Friday night but the game will give both teams a chance to get momentum heading into the final three weeks of the season. East St. John is coming off a 44-14 victory at Thibodaux, itslargest margin of victory in a season in which the Wildcats have had four games go down to the final three minutes.

East St. John did it with its rushing attack, gaining 233 yards on 36attempts. Chuckie Burl had a season best 201 yards and two touchdownson 23 carries, increasing his season totals to 803 yards and six touchdowns on 138 attempts. His yardage total leads the River Parishes.Not that the Wildcats cannot throw the ball. Floyd Smith started his firstgame since coming back from a shoulder injury and passed for 106 yards and two touchdowns to Chris Bush and Randy Sutherland. Roydel Williamshas gained over 550 yards through the air to lead the River Parishes and has scored seven times.

The East St. John defense bounced back after giving up 57 points in a five-overtime loss to Destrehan the week before to limit Thibodaux to 276 yards and forced six turnovers. Brandon Mason and Mervin Williamsreturned interceptions for scores and the Wildcats did not allow the Tigers to get onto the scoreboard until the fourth quarter.

Neville is coming off a 22-0 victory over West Ouachita. The victoryimproved the Tigers to 3-2 on the season. Neville opened the season with a21-14 victory over Airline before falling to Pine Bluff (Ark.), 13-8. A 49-6 win over Carroll was followed by a 12-6 loss to Wossman.

The Tigers are led by running backs James Scalia, Gary Manning and Ferlando Beard, all of whom possess outstanding quickness. Savara Doyleis the top receiver with Nathan McFee, a first-year starter, taking the snaps. The offensive line is experienced with Michael Moore among thosereturning.

The defense is relatively inexperienced with linemen Dominique Jackson and Rodney Orange and linebacker Ivan Hedley the returning starters.

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