ESJ gets set for Bonnabel scrimmage

Published 11:45 pm Friday, August 16, 2013


LAPLACE – As East St. John prepares for its preseason scrimmage at home against Bonnabel (6:30 p.m. Thursday night at Joe Keller Stadium), coach Phillip Banko said the Wildcats are as prepared as he can ever remember at this point in the process.
“We’ve done more 7-on-7 work in camps and practices than we ever did here before,” said Banko. “Our weightlifting work has been off the charts. Most importantly, everyone’s healthy. I think like we’re ahead of it offensively and defensively, and our special teams are especially coming along.”
East St. John participated at the Manning Passing Academy and the Inaugural Drew Brees Passing Academy in Orlando, the latter seeing ESJ place fifth at the event, contested at ESPN’s Wild World of Sports Complex. The Wildcats lost just one game, by one in overtime, at the 32-team competition. 
The players are even getting in a little extra work themselves.
“Our principal, Miss (Patricia) Triche, called me one night recently to let me know that we’ve got 42 Wildcats outside working 7-on-7,” said Banko. “It just about brought a tear to my eye. It shows they care about it and care about getting better.’
“Practicing is how you get good at anything, and you do it because you care about it. One day the heart surgeon will have to open me up, and I’ll have to hope he cares about what he’s doing.”
Banko said that he knows his team will be tested against Bonnabel, who was a ESJ district foe in each of the last two seasons. But he also plans to use the scrimmage to evaluate numerous players on the roster, more so than he could last season, where more of the starting lineup had to be settled.
“It’ll be a basic gameplan, and we’ll limit some guys’ playing time,” said Banko. “We weren’t really able to go that route last year. When I was here as defensive coordinator, in my second year we were able to do that because we had a lot of experienced guys back. Xavier Lewis won’t play defense for us next week. I know he can play football. I have to know if his backups can play, though.’
“We want to let the guys on the field make calls. We want to see who can make plays. You won’t see much blitzing … we’re still in the analytical phase.”