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Destrehan-ESJ battle of Wildcats a top rivalry in its own regard

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  • George Becnel
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  • October 05, 2017 - 10:19am

File photosD'Andrea Pittman (15) is the latest of a long line of Pittmans to star at East St. John. Pittman and ESJ play at Destrehan on Friday in a key District 7-5A encounter.


For all the type the Destrehan-Hahnville rivalry garners each year, sometimes the Destrehan-East St. John encounter gets lost in the shuffle.

“They talk about us and Hahnville’s rivalry but East St. John is a big rivalry for us,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “The proximity of the schools and so forth and a lot of our kids know their kids, so it’s sort of like us and Hahnville. I think it’s a big rivalry that way.”

East St. John always seems to play well against Destrehan like when the St. John Parish-based Wildcats jumped out to a two-touchdown lead a year ago before DHS eventually rallied for a 39-20 triumph.

“They came out and hit us early last year and went up 14-0 and we had to fight back to win that game. I know Coach (Alden) Foster will have his team ready to play and they will do a good job and we have to make sure we can answer it,” Robicheaux said.

Both teams enter the game 3-2 overall. Destrehan is 1-1 in District 7-5A play while East St. John is 2-0. With Hahnville playing a non-district game Friday, ESJ has a chance to grab the temporary lead in the district with a victory Friday in Destrehan.

East St. John quarterback Dasmain Crosby is coming off his best overall outing of the season. The junior quarterback was 13 of 20 passing for 175 yards and rushed for an additional 145 in a 34-6 win over H.L. Bourgeois.

“He makes it go. He’s a dual-threat quarterback,” Robicheaux said. “He likes to run the quarterback draw a lot and he does a good job running and throwing the ball. He has some good weapons outside. Javon Antonio is a big target out there. They do a good job getting him the ball.”

The receiving corps, Robicheaux said, is more than just Antonio.

“I like Cameron Grant. He’s a kid that can go get the ball. He catches the ball real well. They do a good job of spreading the ball around,” said Robicheaux. “Antonio definitely gets the bulk of press but they will throw it to Grant and Markel August makes a few catches also. He (August) is just a sophomore who does a tremendous job for them. They will find Hoxie Brown in the seams at tight end.

Running back Shelvin Keller also is used in the passing game. Keller, along with Calvin Gardner and Pershing Toney split carries at running back for East St. John.

Defensively, ESJ has some recognizable names, starting with D’Andrea Pittman. Pittman’s father, Darwin, along with uncles Thomas and Kirston, were former stars at East St. John.

“When they have a Pittman at middle linebacker, you have to be nervous. I think he’s a good player,” said Robicheaux. “They have some big guys up front, John Gayden and Brad Arceneaux, who cause a lot of havoc.”

The East St. John secondary also features a “name” player in Jarius Monroe, the younger brother of Darion Monroe, a former ESJ star who went on to play at Tulane.

“Chris Thompson is the strong safety and Jarius Monroe is the free safety. He has the name ‘Monroe’ so you know you have to worry about him, too. Mark Stewart, the cornerback, makes a lot of plays. Howard Joseph is the other cornerback,” Robicheaux said.

East St. John provides opposing defenses with multiple looks so containing Crosby and Antonio will be a key to success for Destrehan on Friday, according to Robicheaux.

“We have to control Crosby. We have to keep him in the pocket and make him make the throws,” the Destrehan coach said. “I think we have to contain Antonio and keep two guys around him at all times; he’s a difference maker.

“We have to control the line of scrimmage and we have to be able to run and throw the football. Against Thibodaux we ran the ball with John Emery and played great defensive. If we can run the ball, play great defense and control the clock, I think that can help us win some games.”

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.