East St. John ready for home opener against Scotlandville

Published 4:07 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013


East St. John opened plenty of eyes even in a losing performance last week, as the Wildcats fell 14-0 to defending Class 5A champion Rummel last week.
While the team struggled to generate offense against the stingy Raiders defense, the Wildcats defense proved itself to be at championship level, holding Rummel to seven points until the final two minutes of play.
It was the kind of play the East St. John defense seemed capable of when it created buzz in the 2012 preseason, before Hurricane Issac ravaged its school and threw its season into disarray. The Wildcats were ranked in the Class 5A Top 10 in the LSWA poll prior to last season, but did not receive a vote for the season opening poll this year.
Scotlandville finished 6-4 in 2012, falling to New Iberia in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. The Hornets lost 22 seniors to graduation from last season’s squad. The team began the season on a high note last week, toppling McKinley 20-19 on the road.
The big offensive news for the Wildcats in last week’s game was the revelation of its starting quarterback. Xavier Lewis, an LSU commitment who played quarterback in spot duty through the spring and summer, played every down at the position on Saturday, taking the reins from preseason starter Gerald Munoz.
“He won the position,” said Banko Saturday. “He played well at the jamboree. Gerald understands, and he’s been doing everything he can to help get us ready, and he’s ready to play if we need him. He’s a good quarterback. Xavier can do some things athletically, though, that we can’t ignore.”
Lewis completed 10 of his 17 pass attempts for 86 yards while rushing 12 times for 45 yards.
While he and the Wildcat offense struggled to move the ball against Rummel, Lewis showed flashes of what he could bring to the offense; a key fourth down conversion in the first half nearly set up a touchdown, after Lewis picked up a fumbled snap and salvaged a broken play to gain seven yards and a first down.
“That was Xavier’s first start, and it came against the defending 5A champions. He missed on a few throws, but I thought he handled it well,” said Banko. “Rummel brought nine guys back on defense, just a tremendous defense. (Lewis) will be that much better this week for having faced them.
Banko said that Scotlandville’s win over McKinley was a hard fight, physical contest and that he expects the Hornets to be prepared for that type of a game once more on Friday.
“They’re big, physical, athletic and fast,” said Banko. “Their quarterback looks good on film. Every coach I talk to loves their running back. They all think he’s D-I, and I agree with them. We’ll have to do what we can to make things difficult on him.”