East St. John looks to make it 6 straight wins

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013


LAPLACE — We’re a long way past the days where East St. John’s offense was thought to be its Achilles’ heel.
East St. John emerged from its first three games this season with just 14 combined points and losses to John Curtis, Scotlandville and Rummel. But since then? The Wildcats are sporting an average of 34.4 points per game and have rolled to a 5-0 record in District 7-5A.
After an exciting 30-25 win over Thibodaux last week, the Wildcats (5-3, 5-0) are set to host Terrebonne this week. A victory would set up a potential winner take all district championship showdown in Week 10 between ESJ and Destrehan.
While East St. John won by five, ESJ coach Phillip Banko said he felt his team “left 20 points on the field” on Friday night. The game statistics back him up in many ways. ESJ rolled up 495 yards of total offense and held the Tigers to just 235. But the Wildcats committed 17 penalties for 146 yards, negating much of their work — one such example was a 47-yard touchdown run by Nigel Anderson that was called back due to a hold behind the play.
“We talked about it (Monday),” said Banko. “You play through it. You’re gonna face tough situations, tough calls. You have to just play the game.”
Though he saw the one touchdown run erased, Anderson still had a whale of a game, rushing for 214 yards and a touchdown.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 187-pound junior moved back to running back from linebacker, which he played a year ago, before the season. The Wildcats are reaping the rewards of that shift. Anderson has become a true workhorse for ESJ’s run heavy attack. He carried the ball 33 times Friday night, and as Banko notes, that’s exactly what he wanted.
“He ran phenomenally,” said Banko.
“He told me, ‘Give me 30 carries, coach.’ We’ll feed him till he doesn’t want it again. We haven’t been there yet.”
The Wildcats offense has turned into an explosive entity not just because of Anderson, but also LSU-commitment Xavier Lewis and receivers Jarrod Jackson and Kyle Patterson.
Lewis rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns while passing for 102 yards and another score — a 38-yarder to Patterson.
The Wildcats’ defense got the hype before the season, however, and is living up to it. Last week, ESJ held star Thibodaux rusher Donta Johnson to 53 yards rushing.
“He came into that game averaging well over 120 yards a night. He’s legit,” said Banko.
It’ll be about stopping the run again this week. Terrebonne (4-4, 1-4) runs the option from the Pistol formation and is coming off its most explosive output of the district season, a 48-24 victory over Central Lafourche.
That win snapped a four-game losing streak, all in district games. Terrebonne began the season 3-0, including wins over Redemptorist and Ellender that saw scoring outbursts of 60 and 41 points.
Quarterback Colby Stewart is the one to watch. Last week he totaled 317 yards of total offense, including 224 rushing yards and 93 passing yards. He rushed for three scores and passed for two more.
Tailback Justin Theriot tallied 102 yards on 13 carries in the win.