And then there were 3: SCC, WSJ & ESJ survive to Week 2 of football playoffs

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, November 20, 2019

RESERVE – And then there were three.

While St. Charles Catholic and West St. John got to sit out the first week of the Louisiana High School playoffs, Riverside Academy and East St. John went into battle.

One fell. One survived.

East St. John, the No. 24 seed in the Class 5A bracket, pulled off a miraculous comeback to defeat No. 9 Central of Baton Rouge, 34-30. But Riverside Academy, the No. 14 seed, saw its 2019 season end at the hands of No. 3 Ascension Catholic, 55-20, in the Division IV playoffs on Saturday.

That leaves three St. John the Baptist Parish football teams still alive.

East St. John will host No. 8 Airline at Joe Keller Stadium in Reserve in a Class 5A regional round game. Airline defeated No. 25 Southside, 55-21, last week.

St. Charles, the No. 3 seed in the Division III bracket, will host No. 6 Episcopal. The Knights beat No. 11 Northlake Christian last week while the Comets had a first-round bye.

West St. John, the No. 1 seed in Class 1A, will host No. 16 LaSalle, which defeated No. 17 Arcadia 28-14 last week. West St. John had a first-round bye.

The Wildcats learned last week that they had to forfeit two games for using an ineligible player earlier in the season. Although they still were co-District 7-5A champs with Hahnville, that dropped them from a record of 8-2 to 6-4 and from the No. 10 spot in the Class 5A bracket to No. 24.

But Coach Brandon Brown said his players only cared about what happened on the field, and that’s where the Wildcats pulled off a stunning comeback. East St. John trailed 30-21 with 6:11 remaining in the game.

But the Wildcats scored twice in the span of about four minutes, including a 58-yard touchdown pass from Sean Shelby to Rydell Jackson, and a 67-yard touchdown pass from Shelby to Markel August with 2:05 remaining to give East St. John the upset.

East St. John still had to hang on after Central moved past midfield in the final minutes. Sacks by Calvin Gardner Jr. and Trevion Hampton pushed Central back, then an incomplete pass by Central’s quarterback sealed the win.

“I love my team,” Brown said on the statewide TV broadcast after the game. “We’re going to rewrite our story.”

Riverside’s rewrite will have to wait until next year.

Their game was a rematch of the Week 2 contest, which the Rebels lost, 35-22, so Coach Kevin Dizer hoped his team would improve its chances for an upset. But, youth and inexperience proved costly once again.

Herb Keys did his best to keep his team in the game, scoring on a 55-yard interception return and a 71-yard kickoff return. Gage Larvadain scored the Rebels’ final touchdown of the year on a 9-yard run. But Riverside was no match for Ascension Catholic’s wing-T offense.

“Maybe the moment was just a little too big for some of them,” said Dizer, who closed his second season as coach of the Rebels. “We didn’t play our best game. For a lot of them, it was their first time in the playoffs. We started 10 or 11 freshmen out there. But, we told them, they’re not freshmen anymore. Next year is our year.”