ESJ riding wave into playoffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 8, 2000

RESERVE – Momentum.

It’s something coaches look for heading into the playoffs. And it’s somethingthat the East St. John Wildcats definitely have going into their Class 5A bi-district playoff game against John F. Kennedy Friday night at Joe KellerStadium.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.East St. John comes into the playoffs riding a six-game winning streak. TheWildcats’ last loss came at home to eventual District 7-5A champion Hahnville back on Sept. 22. East St. John went on to finish second in thedistrict with a 5-1 mark and an 8-2 record overall.

East St. John’s latest win came Friday night, 28-21, at South Lafourche.Brandon Mason scored the game-winner for the Wildcats on an 85-yard kickoff return with 1:03 remaining.

South Lafourche had just tied the game at 21 on a 26-yard pass from Jonathan Hanberry to Dustin Dufrene with 1:16 left in the game.

East St. John trailed 14-7 entering the fourth quarter but scored twice on a5-yard pass from Darwin Pittman to Wade Walker and a 54-yard strike from Pittman to Louis Gardner to take a 21-14 lead.

South Lafourche took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by James Rhone. East St. John came back to tie the game in the second quarteron a 28-yard pass from Pittman to Walker. The Tarpons regained the lead inthe third quarter on a 1-yard run by Ruben Billiot.

Pittman completed 13 of his 26 passes for 252 yards as the Wildcats rolled up 375 yards in offense. He now has completed 114 of his 221 passes for1,775 yards on the season.

The Wildcats have been winning with a balanced attack. Chuckie Burl led theRiver Parishes in rushing with over 900 yards and Walker and Raydel Patterson were both among the area leaders in receiving. The Wildcatsintercepted another pass Friday night, giving them 19 on the season.

“Our offense, defense and kicking game has been solid the last six weeks,” East St. John coach Ronnie Stephens said. “We haven’t done anything to beatourselves.”East St. John will be hosting a Kennedy team that enters the game with an 8-2 overall record. The Cougars finished second in District 9-5A behind SarahReed with a 6-1 record.

Kennedy is coming off an 8-0 victory over McDonogh Saturday. Lenell Hudsonhad 91 total yards in the game and scored the only touchdown on a 6-yard run. Kennedy finished the game with 221 yards in offense, 170 coming onthe ground.

The Cougar defense held McDonogh to minus two yards in offense, minus seven rushing, and forced five turnovers.

That defense has been one of the strong points for the team all season, allowing just 64 points in 10 games. Leading the way is a line led by seniorend Rene Gettridge, senior tackles Jermaine Lacour and Quinton Tolliver and junior end Wayne Guidry. In the linebacking corps are seniors Victory Wileyand David Garrett and junior Randy banks. The secondary is manned byseniors Gabriel LaFrance, Lance Lageard and Ocie Sherrad and junior Robert West.

Hudson, a junior, is the quarterback. Joining him in the backfield is seniorMichael Richards, one of the leading scorers in the area with 76 points.

Senior Dwayne Mitchell will also get carries. The wideouts are seniorsTerrance Jones and Clifford Carter.

Like the defensive line, the offensive line has good size, averaging 295 pounds. Tackle Glynn Williams leads the way at 6-2, 315. Guard Allen Jonescomes in at 6-0, 305. On the other side are Marcus Thomas at tackle andGregory Batiste at guard. Khalid Joyner is the center and Randall Forstall thetight end.

“They’re big on both sides of the ball and they have good team speed,” Stephens said. “To win eight ball games, they have to be a good footballteam. We need to play well in all three phases and we need a big crowd Fridaynight.”The winner will advance to the regionals to play the winner of Shaw and Catholic of Baton Rouge.

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