Barrilleaux proud of ESJ bowl stars

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2011

East St. John head football coach Ronald Barrilleaux could only watch his television with pride.

When LSU faced off against Texas A&M last week in the Cotton Bowl, Barrilleaux kept a watchful eye. As an assistant coach at East St. John under then-coach Larry Dauterive, Barrilleaux coached two men on opposing sidelines in the Tigers’ Stefoin Francois and the Aggies’ Patrick Lewis, and he continues to see nothing but good things from the former Wildcat duo.

“You’ve just got to be proud,” said Barrilleaux. To say that two of the players right there are guys I coached, it’s great to see it. And they both did rare things at East St. John.”

Lewis was the only three-time All-State selection in the history of East St. John and a player who was often referred to by Dauterive as “the best lineman I’ve ever coached”. Now playing offensive guard for the Aggies, Lewis played all over the Wildcats line depending on where he was most needed. His versatility was more impressive considering he began his career at the school as a defensive player.

“And he had three different offensive line coaches,” said Barrilleaux, who noted one as West St. John coach Robert Valdez, who oversaw Lewis during his change from defense to offense. “He had three line coaches in three years. And you just look at what he’s become.”

Francois meanwhile was a rarity from day one – literally. He started as a freshman which, for a major Class 5A program, is noteworthy in and of itself.

But on the field, he proved more than worthy. A terror of a safety/linebacker for the Wildcats, he was known for his tremendous hitting and sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability.

Barrilleaux said that at LSU, you don’t always see Francois fill up the stat sheet, but that his job entails freeing up others to make plays.

“He covers backs out of the backfield and third receivers on third down,” said Barrilleaux. “When they power run to his side, he’s the guy that funnels the back inside. You see others making the tackles, but a lot of it is because of what he does, and he’s very good at it. The things he does, unfortunately, don’t get his name called a tremendous amount of times, but he is extremely important.”

While LSU’s defense ruled the day, Barrilleaux said that Lewis wasn’t intimidated.

“He’s faced those guys in high school,” said Barrilleaux, noting LSU’s Drake Nevis as a player Lewis had seen before when Nevis prepped at John Ehret. “All you have to do is watch 61. He dominated on his blocks. He’s gone against those people before and always holds his own.”

Another East St. John player is in the news as well as Ryan Perrilloux has signed a contract with the New York Giants.

Everyone in our region knows the Perrilloux story, but the updated version: after a tumultuous run at LSU (where he was cut from the team for “not fulfilling his obligations as a student athlete”) and a quiet stint (in a good way) at Jacksonville State, Perrilloux played for the UFL’s Hartford Colonials under former Giants assistant Chris Palmer.

With the Colonials, Perrilloux was used as a change of pace behind starting quarterback Josh McCown. He completed 33-of-69 passes for 394 yards and two scores, while rushing 10 times for 35 yards and another touchdown.

With another New Orleans-area player already entrenched as the franchise’s face – Eli Manning – Perrilloux isn’t going somewhere with a clear shot to start.

But as Miami, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detriot, Green Bay, Minnesota, Carolina, Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle ALL should have made us well aware of in 2010, a backup quarterback is always just a play away.

So indeed, this is a big opportunity for the Reserve native.

Congratulations to him and his family are in order.