It was Day One of Year Two at East St. John on Wednesday afternoon.
Upperclassmen started school on Wednesday for the first day of school and the Wildcat football players hit the field for the second year of the Brandon Brown era at ESJ.
“Day One of Year Two is much better than Day One of Year One,” said Brown.
A year of togetherness, said Brown, has the team all on the same page.
“We are kind of ahead of everything right now. Our kids understand the expectations. That’s all we’ve been talking about since last year – expectations, expectations, expectations. They understand what we want from them and even the coaches. Now they understand what I want,” Brown said.
Wednesday morning, members of the Wildcats football team sent a message reverberating through the campus that a new culture is being established at the school, according to Brown.
“Every kid on our football team came today dressed in shirt and tie. I think that meant a lot. We want to be leaders on campus. We want to really change the culture here. We want to prove that we can do it more than just on the field. We want to prove it in the classroom as well,” the East St. John coach said.
The 2019 regular season opens September 6. That’s about a week later than usual so the Wildcats were actually practicing on Wednesday in offseason mode. Next Monday is the first day that players can officially don shells before full pads come on later in the week.
“Days like today, we are able to focus on what some people may think are minor things but for our staff, we think it’s the most integral part of the game, like special teams and technique technical things,” Brown explained.
Getting that work done this week, said Brown, will allow the team to move forward once practice officially begins.
“That’s what we are using these days for before we officially practice to teach so guys understand landmarks on special teams and understand things we really want to get done – technical stuff with the offensive line, defensive line, defensive backs,” Brown said. “We are using it as technique days.
“When we actually start game planning, we are not having to focus on those technical things. It will be more of a game play type thing.”
The focus has been on what Brown terms the “big four” – punt, punt return, kick and kick return.
Brown offered a quick reminder of how the kicking game affected the outcome of the 2018 season that produced a 5-6 record.
“If you look back last year, we lost a close game to McDonogh 35 16-14 where they returned a punt for a touchdown. You take that away, we win the game. We lost a close game to Destrehan 35-34 where they ran a kick back for a touchdown,” Brown pointed out.
East St. John has solid numbers this year. The 70 or so Wildcats will work the next couple of weeks to prepare for a scrimmage against Karr at 6 p.m. August 22 at Joe Keller Stadium in Reserve.
Karr was on the schedule last year for the scrimmage. Taking over the job, I wanted to keep that game. They are the best of the best when you are talking about the top teams in the state of Louisiana. That’s a good gauge. You want to put yourself against the best to kind of see where we are.