PICKED OFF: ESJ qb fights for eligibility

Published 12:10 am Saturday, August 15, 2015

East St. John quarterback Malcolm Darensbourg tucks the ball and runs during ESJ’s spring practice. (Ryan Arena/L’OBSERVATEUR)

East St. John quarterback Malcolm Darensbourg tucks the ball and runs during ESJ’s spring practice. (Ryan Arena/L’OBSERVATEUR)

RESERVE — On Thursday East St. John quarterback Marquise Darensbourg was running drills switching in and out with other quarterbacks in the first team offense.

Darensbourg made a number of clean passes to Wildcats receivers and seemed to have a good handle on the offense.

While Darensbourg is still practicing with the Wildcats, the junior quarterback is facing a year-long suspension for allegedly transferring from Destrehan to district opponent ESJ for athletic purposes.

While technically in competition for starting quarterback, it is not much of a competition if one of the participants is unable to play in preseason action due to being ruled ineligible.

This is the case Darensbourg finds himself in.

Darensbourg was a starter last year as a sophomore for ESJ’s district rival Destrehan High School before being benched in the state championship, which the team went on to lose. Last year Darensbourg led Destrehan to a 28-14 win over ESJ in district play in the regular season and ended ESJ’s year with a 68-14 walloping in the playoffs.

ESJ and Destrehan are district opponents again this year, set to match up in the sixth week of the season.

In the spring Darensbourg transferred to East St. John, but this spring an anonymous source challenged his eligibility with the Louisiana High School Athletics Association (LHSAA).

On July 9 the LHSAA ruled Darensbourg ineligible for the 2015 season.

In his ruling on the matter, several media outlets reported LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said, “this case produced evidence which concludes the transfer was for athletic purposes.”

ESJ have filed an appeal that has not been addressed yet and will not be until an expected ruling on Sept. 3 —one day before ESJ’s season opener against Archbishop Shaw.

“It is an immediate decision and that ruling is final,” Jacob Doyle, Director of Media Relations & Sports Information for LHSAA, said of the pending appeals decision.

Doyle said in cases such as Darensbourg’s a regional compliance officer investigates allegations of non-compliance with LHSAA rules and regulations and the executive director, Bonine, makes a ruling based on such a report.   

The means Darensbourg, while participating in practice, will not be able to participate in the team’s sanctioned preseason events, including the Aug. 20 scrimmage or the Aug. 27 jamboree and may not be able to participate in the 2015 football season at all if the initial ruling is not overturned on appeal.

Darensbourg’s father, Malcolm Darensbourg said the reason behind his son’s move back to LaPlace from Destrehan has been misconstrued.

Malcolm said he shared custody of Marquise with his mother for several years and his son moved back and forth between his home in LaPlace and his mother’s homes in Texas and Destrehan.

Malcolm said the latest change in schools following the 2014 football season was similar to previous years and Marquise’s mother had already moved away from Destrehan when their son transferred to ESJ. In fact, Malcolm said the switch in schools was something required under the law and if they had not transferred Marquise to East St. John they would have been in jeopardy of him getting kicked out of the school system and off Destrehan’s team if authorities discovered he did not live in the proper school zone.

“We are trying to do the right thing and getting punished for it,” Malcolm said.

“That is crazy.”

Malcolm said Marquise’s mother experienced financial difficulties and had to move away from Destrehan before the 2014 football season was even over and that he knew under LHSAA rules Marquise was not allowed to participate in sports at Destrehan because he no longer lived in St. Charles Parish.

“If he can’t play (at East St. John) where can he play?” Malcolm said.

Malcolm said he has largely been left out of the investigation into his son’s eligibility and has not been provided the ability to properly defend his son against what he said are bogus charges.

“This situation is dealing with my son,” Malcolm said.

“I have to talk to the school and the school talks to me. I am not allowed to talk to LHSAA personally. The school has to put up a fight for my son. That is crazy. He is a minor and I am his father.”

The whole situation is disheartening, according to Malcolm.

“It is like a losing battle for me,” Malcolm said. “I am going to keep fighting for him, but I don’t know how much fight I have left in me because I am fighting a losing battle. Why does he have to go to an appeal the day before the game?”

East St. John head coach Alden Foster said he does not understand how LHSAA could rule against Darensbourg.

“It is an unfortunate situation to try to hold a kid back,” Foster said. “This is somebody’s kid and he has done everything he is supposed to do to be eligible. All he did is move to his own home.”

Foster said the decision to rule Darensbourg ineligible was wrong and that dragging out his appeal until the day before the game is hurting him.

“It is really nonsense,” Foster said. “It boils down to just doing the right thing for this kid.”

Foster is still hopeful Darensbourg will win the appeal and has allowed him to continue to practice and thrown him in the mix to replace Xavier Lewis, who will playing for the LSU Tigers this fall.

Competing with Darensbourg at quarterback are senior Alvin Jackson and sophomore Adarius Duhe. Foster said while any of his quarterbacks can handle the position, the question mark hanging over Darensbourg’s eligibility makes the situation difficult to deal with.

“We have confidence in all of our kids, but it makes it really hard to game plan,” Foster said.