Having averaged 34 points per game since the start of District 7-5A play, East St. John’s showdown against Hahnville last Friday had the looks of a potential shootout.
Instead, the Wildcats were blanked by Hahnville, the only unbeaten team in district play, to all to 3-2 in the league and 4-4 overall.
“We didn’t play well. That is a complement to them,” East St. John coach Alden Foster said of Hahnville’s defense. “We got down and didn’t get it beyond the goal line and that was huge.
“You have to regroup and come back against a quality Thibodaux team that’s lost some close games. They are fighting for their playoff lives just like we are. We expect a knock-down, drag-down fight down in Thibodaux.”
East St. John is No. 24 in the unofficial power rankings. Wins over the final two weeks at Thibodaux on Friday and at home against South Lafourche in a non-district game in Week 10, would solidify the Wildcats’ playoff positioning.
Meanwhile, Thibodaux, which is 2-6 overall and 1-3 in district play, goes into Friday’s game as the No. 38 seed. The Tigers are in must-win mode against East St. John and in Week 10 against Central Lafourche to have any shot at the postseason.
“You are playing to secure a spot. You just want a chance to play for it. You want to be playing well if you get that chance to go in the playoffs so this week is very important for us get back on track and right all the wrongs we’ve had so far and get ready to make a run in the playoffs,” Foster said.
Thibodaux’s spread offense is directed by quarterback Damarcus Mitchell, who also plays middle linebacker for the Tigers.
“He’s a load. He’s a great athlete and a big kid. He can run over you. You would think he would be tired being on both sides of the ball,” Foster said of Mitchell.
The top scoring threat for Thibodaux is Saharold Holmes, who lines up at both running back and receiver.
“He’s their athlete that can take it the distance any time he touches it,” said Foster.
Other key runners for Thibodaux include Ferronte Miller and Tanner Guillot.
The receiving corps consists of Tyren Young, Kevon Williams and Shemar Lawson
Anchoring the Thibodaux defense is 6-foot-2, 300-pound Darius Richard.
“They have a big nose guard that kind of sets the tone for them. It seems like he’s been starting forever,” Foster said of Richard. “He’s the mainstay and he just lets the other guys fly around.”
Others alongside Richard on the defensive line include Melik Guidroz and Tyler Holmes.
“Holmes is probably the more aggressive one. He gets after you and plays with a lot of energy,” Foster pointed out.
Derrick Sullivan splits time at middle linebacker with Williams. Other linebackers include Hunter Trosclair and Khalil Brisco, but everything seems to go through Williams on both sides of the ball, according to Foster.
“They kind of go the way he goes. Hopefully we can do a few things to get him a little bit winded but I doubt in Week 9, I doubt he will get winded,” Foster chuckled.
Like Williams, Williams, Young, Lawson all play on defense, joining sophomore Joshua Holden in the secondary.
“When it comes down to this time of year and you are playing for your playoff lives, your best 11 have got to play and that’s what they are doing,” Foster said.