Not a whole lot of coaches get a chance to go back home and win one for the ole alma mater.
Brandon Brown was one of the few after his East St. John Wildcats defeated West Jefferson 41-6 last Friday at Hoss Memtsas Stadium in Harvey.
“It was very emotional,” Brown said. “It was hard for me to just hold back the emotions and once that (scoreboard) went to zero, just to see we had that first victory. I give all the credit, first of all to God, our coaching staff and our kids. They did a tremendous job of bouncing back.”
The bounce back came after a season-opening loss to Plaquemine.
“We had a tough Week 1 opponent in Plaquemine and things didn’t turn out the way we planned and we challenged them to just forget about it and just focus on being 1-0 for each week. That’s what they went out and did. They took their time and played hard. We struggled a little bit early-on to get a good rhythm, but once we got rolling, things went well,” said Brown.
The key to the Wildcats’ success against West Jefferson was a running game that produced 292 yards. Pershing Toney and C.J. Gardner each had a pair of touchdowns while Reggie Foster added a scoring run for East St. John.
“We feel like we have the talent to match up with pretty much anybody,” Brown said. “Once things got going and we had a good rhythm, our tempo was fast on offense, we were rotating our backs.
“We kind of hit them by surprise a little bit. I think we were in shape than they were early-on, so when they got gassed, we just kept our foot on the pedal and had some success running the football. Those backs are very, very unselfish. It doesn’t matter who’s touching the football, they just want each other to do well.”
After the season opener, the Wildcats made a personnel move, switching Dasmain Crosby from quarterback to receiver and inserting Sean Shelby as the new signal caller.
“Dasmain is such a dynamic athlete. He does a lot with the ball in his hands, especially when he’s in space. No necessarily saying Dasmain wasn’t a good choice, however, the better choice was the put Shelby there and we can put the ball in Dasmain’s hands in space. He’s very, very dangerous with the ball in space,” Brown explained.
The Wildcats (1-1) travel to New Orleans to take on coach Wayne Reese’s McDonogh 35 squad. The Roneagles (1-1) opened the season with a 27-6 loss to St. Augustine before blanking Higgins 23-0 a week ago.
McDonogh 35’s spread offense is guided by quarterback Tony Chambers.
“Their quarterback in really, really dangerous,” Brown said of Chambers. “He throws the ball well but he’s more dangerous with his feet. He moves around well in the pocket. When the pocket collapses and breaks down, he has the legs to get himself out of trouble. We will have to contain him and just play solid and fundamentally sound.”
Another weapon for the Roneagles is running back Steveland Williams
“He’s not very big in stature but he plays very, very big. The kid runs extremely hard and fast. He’s tough between the tackles and if he gets to the edge, it will be tough for us,” Brown said.
The Roneagles play an aggressive style of defense, based out of a 4-2-5 alignment.
“We are familiar with that being that’s what we play defensively and our offense sees a lot,” Brown said. “They are a lot more man (coverage) and more press-man. They are very aggressive.
“The last couple of weeks, we’ve been seeing those type of defenses that are very, very aggressive and more press-man and just being real physical. If we can match he intensity and just play hard and physical, we will be in good shape.”
The task for the Wildcats is to try and make it two-in-a-row.
“To get to 2-1, we have to been efficient on the ground like we were this past week,” Brown said. “When we throw the football, we are going have to win our one-on-one matches with Dontae Fleming, Markel August, and now with Dasmain in the slot. We have to involve (tight end) Hoxie Brown more. He’s a matchup problem for teams so we have to get the ball in his hands more often.
“Defensively, we just have to contain their speed. We need to stop the quarterback and just be physical with them. They want to be more finesse. They don’t want to be too physical. If we do that, I think we will have a favorable result and we will win this game.”