Wildcats seek share of district championship

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2011



RESERVE — East St. John suffered a disappointing loss to Higgins last week, but the Wildcats have no time to lick their wounds. On Friday night, ESJ goes on the road to square off with Bonnabel, and a Wildcat win means a share of the District 8-5A championship.

The Higgins loss denied East St. John a shot to control its own destiny as far as winning the district outright. There is a three-way tie for first in 8-5A between East St. John, Higgins and Hahnville. Hahnville hosts Destrehan and Higgins hosts Ehret, leaving open the possibility of a three-way split.

East St. John coach Phillip Banko wasn’t dwelling on the loss earlier this week. He felt his team played well, but that Higgins just made a few more plays.

“They made five more plays than we did,” said Banko. “They did an outstanding job and won the game. We made some mistakes. We missed a field goal, two extra points, and took a touchdown off the board when we had a penalty at the goalline. It was a tough loss against a good team.

“That was a playoff type of game. Really was, considering the cold and the wind, the things we’ll have to face in the playoffs.”

Bonnabel (5-3, 1-3) must win for a chance to reach the postseason. Bonnabel is at 34 in 5A power ratings, two spots below the 32-team cutoff point.

The Bruins picked up their first district win a week ago, defeating Destrehan 18-14 in a game that saw DHS jump to a 14-0 lead. Bonnabel took the lead just before halftime on an interception return.

Despite falling in its three previous district games, all were close: a 24-15 loss to Hahnville, a 20-14 loss to Higgins, and a 22-21 heartbreaker against John Ehret.

“They’ve played well in this district, and that says a good bit,” said Banko. “Like (Ehret coach) Billy North says, there’s a lot of equity in this district. It’s just the way it is. They’re all good teams. Bonnabel’s another one, and they’re playing to get to the playoffs for the first time in awhile.”

Bonnabel attacks with a two-quarterback system; Roy Bauer and Ryan Evans combined to pass for 258 yards and two touchdowns against Destrehan. Troy Lilly is the team’s most prolific playmaker, and the wideout comes off of a 117-yard, two-touchdown night.

The Wildcats looked to be well on their way to a win early Friday after building a 12-0 lead against Higgins. ESJ got on the board first when Monroe picked up a fumbled handoff and scored on a 27-yard touchdown. That made it 6-0; ESJ immediately got the ball back when the Wildcats recovered a short kickoff in Higgins territory. Kadeem Vance scored on a 2-yard run.

Higgins (7-2, 3-1) rallied, scoring on a Darell Williams run. After a Traman McQuarters field goal to made it 15-6, Higgins drove 80 yards and scored, this time on a play-action pass from Jackson to tight end Paul Courtney for a 31-yard touchdown.

East St. John turned it over on its next possession after a short completion from Monroe to Deszmann Broussard — Broussard was stripped clean by defensive back Rhyidh Wilson and the Hurricanes took over on the ESJ 28. Jackson converted a 1-yard sneak to make it 18-15. Williams ran for two to make it a five-point game.