ESJ set for explosive clash

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2010



The stars will certainly be out on Friday night when East St. John travels to Patterson.

Two of the top offenses in the state will be in opposition as will two of its most explosive players in East St. John wide receiver D’haquille Williams and Patterson tailback Kenny Hilliard when the Wildcats square off with the Lumberjacks at Patterson. The game will be played at 7 p.m. and televised on Cox Sports Television.

Hilliard, an LSU commitment, gained 2,844 total yards a year ago and scored 36 touchdowns. Williams, meanwhile, tallied 1,171 receiving yards to go with 17 scores. Both are seniors now, and both bring heavy expectations with them this season.

Ironically, though, this game may not come down to those two at all, says East St. John coach Larry Dauterive

— relatively speaking, of course.

“They’re two great players, but it’s still a 22 man game,” said Dauterive. “Those guys are going to get their yards. It comes down to who gets the rest, and which side it comes from.”

Of chief concern to Dauterive will indeed be stopping Hilliard, however. He said that the Wildcats’ defensive performance in its 35-34 jamboree loss to St. Charles was troubling, to say the least, and says that failure to improve in that area would yield “embarrassment” on Friday.

“When you gain 450 yards in a half and score 34 points, you should win,” he said. “We have to refocus on defense. (Hilliard) will get his yards, but its up to us to make him work and make him pay when we catch him. He’s so big and fast. We’ll have our hands full for sure.”

Dauterive said his team needs to clean up the penalty situation too, after following a flag-marred scrimmage against McDonogh No. 35 with another penalty-heavy performance at Thursday’s jamboree. ESJ was flagged 14 times.

“Eight of those were major flags,” said Dauterive. “We need to be more disciplined, or we’ll get embarrassed.”

Patterson is ranked seventh in Class 3A.

In Edgard, meanwhile, Class 3A’s No. 6 team St. James is a team seeking redemption after falling to rival West St. John at home in the season opener a year ago.

St. James coach Rick Gaille downplayed the “payback factor” though.

“How much motivation do you really need for a game like this?” asked Gaille. “Against a rival like West St. John, a school that’s right next to yours, a traditionally very good football team, with fans that live among one another in this community … you can only have so much motivation. These kids were already up for this game, and would be in any circumstances.”

Still, West St. John coach Robert Valdez feels his No. 7 (1A) ranked Rams do have something of a target on their back.

“We beat them in their backyard, and you know they’re coming for sweet revenge,” said Valdez. “You throw the records out the window when this game comes up.”

Valdez said that defending the Wing-T (“We don’t see it every week, and they’re the best at running it,” said Valdez) presents all kinds of problems, and his team’s success will depend on its discipline on that side of the ball.

Gaille, meanwhile, mused that no matter how many starters West St. John brings back from year to year, preparing for the Rams is never easy.

“What’s amazing to me is only the numbers change,” said Gaille. “They’re always very good at the skill positions, they’re physical in the trenches, and give multiple looks on both offense and defense. They’ve got great skill and athleticism, and they do a good job using that.”

Gaille said that the difference in the game between the teams last season was that the Rams fought through early adversity, while his team did not.

He said maintaining consistency through good and bad plays would be tantamount to victory, this time.

Riverside, the No. 5 ranked team in Class 2A, will host White Castle, a team that just missed being ranked in the Class 1A top 10 with 34 votes.

White Castle brings back most of its starting lineup from 2009, a trait it shares with the veteran Rebels.

“They’re loaded with skill players,” said RA coach Mickey Roussel.

The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Roland Martin, an LSU commitment, and tailback Tyree Brackens.

Roussel was a bit disappointed with his team’s offensive production on Thursday against West St. John, and expects to see a step up in production on Friday.

“We made some correctable errors,” said Roussel. “You miss an assignment on offense, and it could be a 40 yard loss. We’ll have to be more consistent up front.”

St. Charles, fresh off of its thrilling jamboree win over ESJ, travels to Class 4A Woodlawn, the ninth ranked team in Class 4A.

“They’re basically as big as a Class 5A school now,” said SCC coach Frank Monica. “It’s a tough way to start the season.”

St. Charles defeated Woodlawn in last year’s opener in LaPlace.

That was a veteran Comet squad though. This one returns just five starters — but already has experience in defeating a much larger school at the jamboree.

Marcus Hall and Lazedrick Thompson are each coming off of a two-touchdown performance, and the Comets will likely have to control the ground game again to emerge with a victory here.