5A All-State team includes two from River Parishes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2011



A pair of local athletes ticketed for the Division I ranks were honored over the weekend, named as members of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A All-State team: East St. John’s Darion Monroe and Hahnville’s Jerqwinick Sandolph.

East St. John’s Rashad Green was named honorable mention.

Monroe completed a magnificent season in 2011 that ranks as one of the best campaigns ever at ESJ. He led the Wildcats to their first district championship and playoff victory since 2006, and an 8-4 record overall. Statistically, he completed 146 of 271 pass attempts for 2,484 yards and 20 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He also rushed 126 times for 593 yards and 13 touchdowns.

But Monroe’s contributions, as his coach, Philip Banko, points out, go far beyond the stat sheet. Monroe also played defensive back for the Wildcats. He acted as the holder on the kicking unit. He punted at times and acted as the personal protector on others on punt team. He was a return man. And in the locker room, Monroe’s word was gold, acting as team leader.

“He’s a special football player and a special person,” said Banko. “I truly believe, based on what he’s done, he’s the best athlete to come through this school. I know the great Ryan Perrilloux accomplished so much. But D-Bo, when you consider all the different things he did and did so well for us … if we didn’t need him on offense, he’d have been the best defensive back in the state, full time.”

Monroe is committed to play defensive back at Texas A&M, but he is being recruited elsewhere to play quarterback. Banko listed Oregon, Utah and Georgia Tech as three such places; he also said A&M would be willing to let him try quarterback, though he isn’t being recruited to play the position.

Banko praised Monroe’s toughness as well, noting that after ESJ’s game against John Curtis in the season’s third week, Monroe played with a back injury the rest of the season. A hip pointer would follow.

“He never complained about anything,” said Banko. “He’s not the type to. He’s got no ego. Whatever program he goes to next, he’ll help make a marked improvement.”

Sandolph has committed to LSU and concluded a standout career at defensive back for Hahnville.

He recorded 72 tackles and three interceptions for a Hahnville team that finished 6-5, tied for the District 8-5A championship with the Wildcats.

Sandolph’s ability to play receivers one on one, as well as play in the box as a hybrid linebacker-safety, gave Tigers’ coach Lou Valdin plenty of options on defense.

“It was huge for us,” said Valdin. “Not only could he cover but he was a big force in stopping the run. For a safety, he’s as big as a linebacker. You put him in the box and it makes things very difficult for the other guys.”

Valdin said he thinks Sandolph will play safety at LSU because of that total package of skills.

“He can do it all,” said Valdin. “He’s athletic enough to cover man, and he’s smart and can play zone … and the hits. When I think of his career here I’ll always remember the big hits. He’s just a vicious tackler. He blew people up out there.”

Sandolph started for three seasons.

“He was obviously the best player on our football team,” said Valdin. “He was the leader on our defense and just a great player.”