Tough challenge awaits St. John tonight

Tryve Brackin
St. John High senior lineman Cody Romig (77) leads the Eagles’ sweep to the right side in Friday night’s state playoff gridiron win over St. Helena Central. Quarterback Mike Martinez (9) faked a handoff inside to Warren Bates, Jr. (5) and turns and gives the ball to Josh Johnson (21).

St. John High’s Eagles will face a bunch of Farmers tomorrow (Friday) night at Green Devil Stadium, but don’t expect the District 2-2-A visitors to be a bunch of gridiron hayseeds.

The Farmerville Farmers have an outstanding 10-1 record and come out of a very competitive North La. league that includes solid football clubs in Sterlington, Jonesboro-Hodge, last year’s playoff foe Ferriday, and Lake Providence.

The 2-2A was such a solid district all five teams from the league notched state playoff berths. Ferriday, Jonesboro-Hodge, and Lake Providence all lost first-round games last week, but they were to Double A powers, in order, John Curtis, Calvary Baptist, and Evangel Christian. Sterlington High ended up losing to Loyola Prep (another SJHS foe in the playoffs last year). SJHS’ district rival and neighbor 9-0 Donaldsonville High draws Loyola Prep tomorrow night in the regionals.

While four of five of the 2-2A district teams went one and out against formidable competition, Farmerville romped to an easy 45-0 victory over Oakdale High, earning the regional visit to Plaquemine tomorrow evening.

The Farmers have some of best wheels in Double A football, and I don’t mean John Deere tractors with big racing engines. The FHS backfield includes a trio of 4.5 (in the 40) sprinters: Quarterback Corderius Nation, halfback Ladarian Brown, and halfback Derrick Lawrence. They also have a senior fullback in Terrell Andrews. The line has size, but the defense is just as big, averaging 250 lbs. up front. At the heart of the Farmer defense is a 2007 all-state middle linebacker, Jakelton Joiner.

Farmerville was in the state hunt not too many years back. Second-year coach Gerald Spatafora has built back the program to playoff level.

No Louisiana prep observers doubt Class 2-A is loaded with some of the best high school football teams in the state. Curtis, Evangel, and St. James High have plenty of title trophies in their school hallways. Calvary Baptist, Donaldsonville, and St. Thomas Aquinas are all up and comers in the classification and teams like Many (10-1), Rosepine, BR Episcopal, and Farmerville are clubs waiting in the wings to prove they can be among the elite.

Certainly, St. John has to be ranked with this group of outstanding group of state football powers after the local school’s accomplishments in recent years, but to prove it in 2008 Coach Tut Musemeche’s mix of veteran and first-year players have to step up and play on a new level come tomorrow evening.

Last year St. John was a surprise quarterfinalist, reaching that level for something like the fourth consecutive year in 2-A or 1-A football. For this year’s Eagles to add another quarterfinal berth will have to take a similar growth and a bit of surprise. Odds don’t favor a three-loss, district runner-up club going further than the regionals in the tough 2-A class. However, this year’s Eagle group has defied the odds. Not many thought they would beat out Livonia in district play, much less top an offensively powerful St. Helena Central club in their own backyard last Friday night.

St. John’s 2008 club has shown heart, determination, and an enjoyment of accepting and battling challenges. The only thing is they will have to do it all over again tomorrow night.

FINAL STATS:

Future Tulane football player Ryan Travis finished the 2008 season with one of the top passing/rushing total offensive efforts in Southeast Louisiana Class 3-A ranks.

The senior Plaquemine High quarterback passed for 890 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for 719 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He was among the top running backs in the area as well as one of the top scorers in area 3-A football.

With Travis hitting for 890 yards passing, receivers Damarcus Watts and Reggie Travis both had good statistics for PHS. Watts had 33 receptions and 511 yards, while Reggie collected 22 passes for 353 yards.

White Castle High’s Jyruss Edwards did not have the number of carries he had in 2007 when he won the state rushing title, but he still finished the regular season with a solid 811 yards, 12 TDs, and a 7.3 average. He had a total of 16 TDs with the addition of pass receptions for scores.

St. John High junior Josh Johnson finished the regular season as his team’s top rusher and he had solid area 2-A stats with 915 yards on the ground, a 6.2 average, and eight touchdowns.