Wildcats preparing for explosive Tiger attack

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013


LAPLACE — Though his team comes off perhaps its most impressive victory of the season in a 28-12 victory at Hahnville, East St. John coach Phillip Banko won’t allow his team to rest upon its laurels.
Certainly not with Thibodaux next on the slate, a team Banko believes is as explosive as any team the Wildcats have faced.
Running back Donta Johnson is the chief reason why. In last week’s 48-14 victory over Terrebonne, three of Johnson’s first five touches resulted in touchdowns. He finished with 13 carries for 156 yards and four scores, helping to lead the Tigers to 310 rushing yards on the night.
“He’s their biggest strength,” said Banko. “He, their quarterback and a very, very good offensive line. (Johnson) has the ability to take it the distance on any play. He might be the best running back we’ve faced this year.”
Banko called Johnson a true every-down back.
“He’s got great hands and great start-stop quickness. He reminds me a lot of Darren Sproles,” said Banko.
He’s not the only threat, however. That’s a big reason why the Tigers (4-3, 2-2) average 35 points per game.
“Their quarterback (Peyton Bonvillian) is a very, very heady football player. They’ve got at least three guys that can break the big play. That includes their tight end (Devaughn Brown). They throw to him a lot and he’s a fine blocker as well.”
Thibodaux boasts seven senior starters on offense. 
“They’ve also got a really good kicker. Their defense runs to the ball as well as anyone we’ve played. It’s a consistent group,” said Banko.
The Wildcats (4-3, 4-0) enter the game on a serious roll. The team’s 0-3 start is a distant memory since the beginning of District 7-5A play as ESJ has rattled off four wins in a row, the last three of which all by double-digit margins.
The play of the team’s offensive line has been a big key to that turnaround. The Wildcats struggled to score points in the first three weeks of the season. But through ESJ’s four-game winning streak, the Wildcats are averaging 35.5 points per game. The line has paved the way for some big rushing yardage totals from quarterback Xavier Lewis and running back Nigel Anderson.
The line has also overcome injuries to do so — Blaize Diaz, Dequinton Lloyd, Karon Wilkins, Justin Chilton, Charlie Payne, Davarian Stockman and Lorne MaGuffy.
The latter three all providing help from the defensive side — have rotated into the lineup effectively.
“Our defense gets a lot of the publicity, but I wish people would talk more about what the offensive line is doing,” said Banko.
“Both of our lines have been playing at a very high level.”
The defense is coming off of perhaps its best game this season, holding Hahnville to just 123 yards of offense — including just eight rushing yards by a powerful HHS running attack.
“No matter how big, fast, athletic or explosive you are, or aren’t, if you know your assignment and do your job within the scheme you’ll see results,” said Banko.
“We’ve got a number of seniors out there, guys who are generals on that field.’
“They’ve been through the fire.”