ESJ ‘evolving’ from loss

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 6, 2011



RESERVE — Coach Phillip Banko wants to see a number of things get better after his East St. John Wildcats’ 35-7 loss at Carencro on Friday. At or near the top of the list has to be one word: finish.

East St. John made six trips to the Carencro redzone on Friday night but came away with just one score. Likewise, a strong finish to the first half could have made for a much closer game; a 14-7 Carencro lead ballooned to 28-7 after two big plays near the end of the second quarter.

“You have to make them pay when you get into the redzone,” said Banko. “It’s something we’re going to do. We can’t accept the alternative.”

East St. John scored in the first half on Darion Monroe’s touchdown pass to Rashad Green. But Carencro got rolling, creating a comfortable halftime cushion on Alex Johnson’s 76-yard touchdown run that made it 28-7.

Johnson had a big night, rushing behind a massive Carencro offensive line to accumulate 257 yards and three scores. The Bears rolled up over 500 yards of offense.

As with many other games statewide, the game was contested in rainy, windy conditions. But Banko will hear none of it: Carencro, he said, simply made more plays on Friday night.

“Those guys have all played together since the eighth grade. Carencro’s got a very good football team,” said Banko. “Facing them will force us to evolve … We thank them for that. My hat’s off to a team and a coaching staff that did a heck of a job.”

St. Louis, a Class 4A competitor, visits ESJ this week in what will be the Wildcats’ home opener.

The Saints were 10-2 last season under coach Mike Johns and are a consistent winner, having captured three straight district titles.

Their team is short on returning starters. New faces or not, St. Louis showed its competitive spirit when it came back from a two-touchdown deficit on Friday night to defeat Sam Houston 18-14.

Quarterback J.P. Crawford leads the Saints’ spread attack.

“They’re a lot like St. Charles,” said Banko. “They’ve got really good running backs and a good quarterback.

“They’re going to present you with a lot of motion and shifts on offense. We have to be prepared for that.”

Some good news came for the Wildcats this week as next week’s game with John Curtis, which was scheduled as a Curtis home game, will now take place at East St. John.

That means the next four Wildcats’ games will be at home, also including clashes with Parkview Baptist and Capitol.