WSJ’s Favorite, SCC’s Jackson lead 2012 All-Parish football

Published 11:45 pm Friday, December 28, 2012



LAPLACE — 2012 was a year not quite like any other in the history of St. John the Baptist Parish football.

Each of our four local teams had to overcome obstacles brought on by Hurricane Issac and the damage it inflicted upon the region.

All four teams had to overcome the loss of its opening game and countless preparation hours.

Many players and coaches played out the season without the ability to return to their homes after practices and games, their houses flooded and undergoing repairs.

Some even dealt with the loss of their school itself — East St. John’s campus was flooded, its fieldhouse ruined and its equipment and weight room rendered unusable.

Each of these teams began the season slowly: Riverside started 0-4; West St. John 1-3; East St. John 1-3 and St. Charles 2-2. But by season’s end, this group of teams would combine for two district championships, a state quarterfinal run, a state semifinal run, and one very inspiring late season charge into the postseason against all odds.

Once again in 2012, L’Observateur honors the best and brightest from the St. John gridiron with its All-Parish Team, highlighted by its respective Offensive MVP, Defensive MVP and Co-Coaches of the Year: West St. John senior running back Kylum Favorite, St. Charles Catholic defensive end Luke Jackson, East St. John coach Phillip Banko and West St. John coach Robert Valdez.

Favorite was the leading rusher not only in St. John Parish, but all the River Parishes. The bruising senior running back carried the ball 161 times for 1,315 yards and 19 touchdowns – he scored two more as a receiver to bring his total to 21 – numbers even more impressive when considering he split time with teammate Jeremy Jackson.

Favorite earns Offensive MVP honors to top off a tremendous season that saw him also named to the Class 1A All-State team for the second consecutive season. He helped lead West St. John to the Class 1A semifinals.

Jackson was a force in his first full season at defensive end for the Comets, shifting to a full-time pass rushing role from his outside linebacker spot of a year ago. The Comet senior already was known widely for his ability after committing to Tulane in the preseason.

He did nothing to disappoint, leading a strong St. Charles defense in sacks (13.5) and finishing second in tackles (68). He recorded 17 tackles for loss.

A year after leading East St. John to a district championship and its first playoff victory since 2006, Banko inherited an impossible task after Issac ravaged East St. John. Most of his players lost their homes. There was no fieldhouse, no weight room, no jerseys nor pads; East St. John lost its season opener, and Banko had to essentially rebuild his program on the fly with two games against top-ranked foes in the first three; one of those eventual national champion John Curtis.

The Wildcats dropped their first three games, and suffered some more adversity along the way: top wide receiver Deszmann Broussard was lost for the season during district play; offensive coordinator Dennis Lorio resigned midseason.

But the Wildcats rallied around their coach, winning five of their final six regular season games to improbably reach the postseason.

Valdez, meanwhile, furthered the shaping of West St. John into an offensive powerhouse and a perennial Class 1A contender, captaining the Rams to the Class 1A state semifinals and a second consecutive District 9-1A championship.

Valdez directed the Rams to a 9-4 record this season; West St. John is 17-2 within Class 1A over the past two seasons. The Rams entered the season as the No. 1 ranked team in Class 1A and looked the part for most of the season, terrorizing 1A foes with a squad that could pass, run and defend proficiently.

His decision to shift to an up-tempo “Oregon Ducks” style no-huddle in district play led to some gaudy offensive numbers: West St. John scored no less than 35 points over the seven game span it utilized the no-huddle as a base attack; up until its 36-35 semifinal loss to Haynesville, no team came within 18 of West St. John over the course of an eight-game winning streak.

Turn to page 7A to see the entire 2012 All-Parish football team.