Banko expects familiar sight as Wildcats face Curtis

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011



RESERVE — East St. John coach Phillip Banko knows John Curtis football better than most.

Prior to becoming the Wildcats’ head coach, Banko’s run as an assistant coach included a stop at Curtis, where he coached under J.T. Curtis, who he describes as a major influence and a mentor to him.

But as familiar as he is with the Curtis program, he knows that when he arrives in Reserve with his Patriots on Friday, it will be about the furthest thing from a social visit.

“We’ve talked every day this week. He’s been like a father figure, and he always will be,” said Banko. “But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s coming to try to kick our butts.”

Each team enters this game with a wave positive momentum behind it. For the Patriots, the top-ranked team in Class 3A, they come off of a 27-7 win in the Superdome over Winnfield last week. Meanwhile, East St. John notched its first win of the season — and supplied Banko with the first victory of his young head coaching career — with a 35-21 win at home over St. Louis.

The Class 2A runner-up in each of the past two seasons, Curtis (2-0) has seen its big three offensive names move on, as quarterback Brandon Bourgeois, running back Torrey Pierce and wide receiver Josh Hanberry have graduated. But as usual, the Patriots’ cupboard remains stacked. Tight end Dillon Gordon is an LSU commitment. Five defensive players are top collegiate prospects, including defensive lineman Marcel Andry. The team’s wide receivers, Kaylon Bernard and Tre Perrier, are two others on a Patriots’ team that attacks downfield more than in the past.

But aside from that, the more things change with Curtis, Banko said, the more they stay the same.

“They haven’t changed since 1967. Even the coordinators are the same,” said Banko. “They teach what they believe and do it well. We’ll be facing a team that’s physical, one that’s well-versed in offense, defense and special teams. Not only that, but also well-versed in all the situational aspects of the game. J.T. Curtis is the winningest coach in the history of the state. Where they are is what we strive for. It’s another great test for us.”

Quarterback Darion Monroe and running back Jalen Kenner led East St. John (1-1) offensively last week.

ESJ rolled up 27 unanswered points in the first quarter.. Monroe ran for a score and passed for another to Deszman Broussard, and Kenner ran for two scores to build the lead. Monroe finished with 145 total yards.

The game with Curtis will take place at Joe Keller Stadium; originally, it was slated to be a Curtis home game on Thursday night. Banko said the game was moved to avoid players playing another Thursday night game (the team’s scrimmage was on a Thursday, as will be its district opener vs. Ehret). Curtis agreed to change venues.

“He was willing to help us out,” said Banko. “But it’s our attitude that anywhere we go, we make that field ours. Road or home.”