Missed opportunities early hurt East St. John in its 33-12 loss last week to unbeaten Terrebonne.
“We didn’t capitalize early. I think it should have been at least 21-0 early-on. We drove the ball well but didn’t capitalize in the red zone. Defensively, I think we started off pretty good. However, we kind of gave up some big plays. It happened one time on fourth down. Our guy attempted to bat the ball and he actually batted it to (the Terrebonne receiver) for a touchdown. It’s just simple mistakes. They are Year One mistakes. It’s Year One and we are trying to build a program. We just have to get over those mistakes and move forward,” East St. John coach Brandon Brown said.
The result left East St. John 2-5 overall and 1-3 in District 7-5A. The Wildcats visit a Hahnville team on Friday that has won two in a row after a tough start to improve to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in district play.
With both teams under .500 heading into the stretch drive of the season, Friday’s game takes on a playoff atmosphere if either team hopes to play in the actual postseason in a few weeks.
“Our playoffs started (Monday). In order for us to have a chance, we have to win out,” Brown said.
The Tigers have found their running game in the past two weeks. In a 41-7 win last week over Thibodaux, Hahnville rushed for 309 yards. Leading the way was Brandon Comardelle with 203 yards on 12 carries.
“He is a very good running back,” Brown said. “What I like about him is his vision. He makes the right cuts at the right time. He’s patient and he runs behind his blocks. Those big guys up front do a good job protecting him and opening up some lanes for him.”
The Tigers’ quarterback situation has been in flux all season. Jha’quan Jackson has moved from quarterback to receiver and back to quarterback during the year. Jackson’s role at quarterback now is from the wildcat formation.
“That’s a scary thing. When he gets back there, he is just so dynamic,” Jackson said.
Other than when Jackson is in the wildcat, sophomore Drew Naquin is at quarterback for Hahnville.
“When I watched the film on him, I had to go back to the roster to see what classification that kid was in. He doesn’t play like a sophomore at all. The kid plays like a seasoned vet. He makes some good decisions. For him to be the guy they are going to now with all the stuff that happened with (Andrew) Robison, it just speaks volumes for that young man to step into that leadership role,” Brown said.
If Jackson for Comardelle aren’t running the ball, the odds are it’s going to Jace Myers.
“Jace is kind of a change of pace guy. He runs the ball extremely hard. When he’s in, he’s going to touch the football. When he does, he makes something happen,” Brown said.
The Tigers, Brown said, are big in defense.
“Defensively, it’s size, size, size,” the East St. John coach said. “They have some big guys up front who move extremely well.”
The Tigers operate out of a 3-3 Stack, a defense the Wildcats saw a week ago against Terrebonne.
“Last week, that posed some problems. I’m sure they are going to break down the Terrebonne film pretty good to see some of the problems. For us, it’s going to be about what we need to do. About us going in and making some adjustments and cleaning some things up. If we do that – which I think we will – I think it will be favorable for us,” Brown said.
One of Hahnville’s top defenders is linebacker John Pearsall.
“He’s the kind of guy that you want to have on your team. To be really, really good on defense you have to have a really good (middle) linebacker. We will have to do our best to keep a hat on him,” Brown said.
The secondary is a Hahnville stretch. Among the leaders is Amontae Jernigan, who play a hybrid linebacker/defensive back position.
“He is another guy we have to keep our eyes on,” Brown said.
Also in the secondary is Syre Lewis
“He’s a big-time player,” said Brown.
Providing protection for quarter Sean Shelby, Brown said, will be a key factor against Hahnville’s defense.
“If we can protect up front and give our quarterback some time – he has been throwing the ball well – the problem has been protection. The key for us this week is to try and establish the run. We haven’t had a lot of success with that this year. We will have to hang our hat on something, so we will go in and try to establish the run,” said Brown.
Qualifying for the playoffs, Brown said, will be no easy task, giving the stretch of opponents the Wildcats have been facing.
“We hit that SEC West stretch with Destrehan, Terrebonne, Hahnville and Thibodaux. We knew it was coming. We just have to be prepared to go out there and play our best football,” the East St. John coach said.