Instant replay: ESJ, SLHS meet again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 10, 1999

RESERVE – “Haven’t I met you someplace before?” That is the attitude the members of the East St. John and South Lafourchefootball programs must have this week. One week after East St. Johndefeated the Tarpons, 41-16, to clinch second place in District 7-5A, the teams square off again Friday night in the Class 5A bi-district playoffs.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Joe Keller Stadium.East St. John goes into the contest as the 11th seed in Class 5A with a 7-3 record and winners of five straight games. South Lafourche enters at 5-5 overall.

East St. John controlled much of the first half Friday night, taking a 24-0lead at halftime. South Lafourche twice drove into East St. John territorybut turned the ball over on downs. East St. John, on the other hand, scoredon its first two possessions, first on a 3-yard run by Branden August and then on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Floyd Smith to Roy Del Williams.

With both offenses held in check for much of the second quarter, the East St. John defense got the Wildcats on the board. First it was Brandon Masonreturning a fumble by Joshua Allen 27 yards for a touchdown. Then it wasMason again, intercepting a Jonathan Hanberry pass in the waning seconds and returning it to the Tarpon 4-yard line, setting up a 21-yard field goal by Billy Hogan.

East St. John used another fumble recovery by Jonathan Miles early in thethird quarter to extend its lead with Smith combining with Terron Charles on a 47-yard touchdown strike. Then it would be South Lafourche’s turn totake advantage of turnovers as Cullen Redstock returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown and Gavin Buffinet scoring on a 2-yard run after a fumble recovery.

East St. John pulled away behind a 52-yard scoring strike from Smith toWilliams and a 37-yard field goal by Hogan after a Deval Ceasar interception.

Smith finished with 11 completions in 23 attempts for 199 yards and three touchdowns. He now has 1,766 yards and 23 touchdowns on theseason. Williams added to his season totals, catching six passes for 109yards and three touchdowns, giving him 53 receptions for 1,168 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Wildcats’ rushing attack was held in check, withChuckie Burl leading the way with 39 yards on nine carries. Burl now has1,150 yards and 10 touchdowns on 199 carries.

The East St. John defense held the Tarpons in check for much of the game.South Lafourche was held to 225 yards and committed four turnovers.

Hanberry passed for 86 yards and two touchdowns but was also intercepted twice. The Tarpons ran for 139 yards, led by Walter Nelsonwith 61 yards on 12 attempts.

“I thought it was a good effort,” East St. John coach Ronnie Stephens said.”We did well defensively and the defense made some big plays. BrandonMason had a great game. Offensively, we threw the ball well but we didn’trun the football.”Stephens said facing the Tarpons a second time will be a much tougher task.

“You never like to play anyone twice in football,” Stephens said. “We justplayed them a week ago and everything is in their favor with the revenge factor. We are expecting another hard-nose football game like Fridaynight. It’s going to be a good one.”The winner plays the winner of the Catholic-Ponchatoula game in the regionals next week.

Destrehan-Holy Cross

DESTREHAN – Coming off a game against one of the best defensive teams in the area, Destrehan opens the bi-district playoffs against a offensively balanced Holy Cross team.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.Destrehan is coming off a 26-25 loss to Hammond last Friday. Hammondwon the game on a 44-yard field goal by Jim Hall with 27 seconds remaining, dropping the Wildcats to 8-2 on the regular season.

Destrehan gained 366 yards against a tough Hammond defense but also turned the ball over five times. The Wildcats know they cannot have arepeat performance as the second season opens against the Tigers.

Holy Cross also had turnover problems in its season finale loss to Jesuit, 31-21, Saturday. The Tigers out-gained the Blue Jays, 332-291, butcommitted four turnovers. The loss dropped the Tigers to 6-4 on theseason and 3-3 in District 10-5A.

John Wattigny passed for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the game, giving the junior quarterback 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns for the season. Wattigny has two main targets he looks to in junior split endJerome Landry and junior running back Gino Giambelluca. Landry had 48catches for 720 yards and eight touchdowns heading into last Saturday’s contest while Giambelluca had 19 receptions for 492 yards and two touchdowns. Landry added two touchdowns against Jesuit whileGiambelluca had one.

The Tigers can also do damage on the ground. Junior running back BrandonBaiamonte has rushed for over 700 yards and two touchdowns on the season. Sophomore running back Jeremy Thomas joins Baiamonte in thebackfield.

On defense, the Tigers are led by returning starters Eddie DeRoche at middle linebacker, Phillip Robin on the line and Chris Thompson in the backfield.

That defense will be trying to stop a Destrehan offense led by Ivan Mashia who has thrown for over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Inthe backfield is DeChad Ward and Deron Love who have combined to rush for over 1,000 yards.

Friday night’s winner will advance to play the winner of the Shaw- Acadiana game in the regionals next week.

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