John Curtis utilized the run to dominate East St. John, its stable of running backs leading a 45-13 nondistrict victory Friday night at Muss Bertolino Stadium.
Led by senior Myles Washington, the Patriots proved to be too much for East St. John, also a run-first offense. After countering Curtis’ opening scoring drive, the Wildcats allowed 35 points before responding during the final minutes.
That was enough to allow Curtis, last season’s Division II state champions, to improve to 3-0.
“Coming off that big win (last week against Texas’ Lufkin High in Shreveport), everybody was excited,” said Washington, who rushed six times for 53 yards, including a 1-yard score in the second quarter.
“We really had to refocus. We had a rainy week of practice, but we really came together as a team for this win.”
Washington switched jerseys at halftime — from No. 34 to 33 — because the former was ripped. But as close as the Wildcats defense got to him and his teammates, they often failed to bring down the rushers the first time. Or second.
Friday’s game was not the effort East St. John coach Phillip Banko wanted from his Wildcats (1-2), one week before opening District 7-5A play against South Lafourche .
“Credit to Curtis; we didn’t take a guy all night,” Banko said. “For 21/2 quarters, we did all right. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board, get ready for South Lafourche and take what we learned from this loss, last week’s victory and the (season-opening) loss to Rummel.”
Curtis now heads into an exciting stretch of local prep football. The Patriots will play Class 4A state runner-up Karr next Friday, then on Oct. 4 will play Division I select state semifinalists St. Augustine. Last season’s trilogy series served as a proverbial measuring stick for the best programs in the New Orleans area.
East St. John’s problems Friday night started with Washington, and continued with Dontae Jones, a tad smaller but quicker.
Jones received the most carries, finishing with eight carries for 118 yards. Tyrone Chevalier also gave the Wildcats fits (101 yards), as well as Santos Moreira, who scored on runs of 28 and 62 yards in the third quarter.
“We’ve always tried to play a lot of running backs,” Patriots coach J.T. Curtis said. “We’re young back there. But the young guys, I thought, came through tonight and got some experience we think is going to help us down the line.”
Not that Xavier Lewis (130 rushing yards) didn’t give the Patriots defense fits. Hard to tackle and just as difficult to pursue, Lewis transformed troubled plays into first downs.
Still, his effort, along with running back Nigel Anderson, was not enough to keep up with Curtis.
“On offense, we had a lot of mental mistakes,” Lewis said. “On defense, if we do what we’ve been taught all week, we have a chance to win this game. But it’s a learning experience, going into district.”
Albeit a painful one.