Central’s rushing attack was too much for East St. John in a 43-15 thumping on a damp night in St. John the Baptist Parish on Nov. 10.
It was the first time since 2020 that Central had won a playoff game. The win was also bittersweet because last season, the Wildcats finished the season 4-6 and missed the playoffs altogether.
“I’m so proud of the turnaround as the players, who have bought in and believed and the coaching staff,” first-year Central head coach David Simoneaux said. “Our administration has equipped us with the tools to be successful and I believe the best is yet to come.”
Aided by one of the better offensive lines in the state, the Wildcats ran for over 300 yards and had five rushing touchdowns. Senior running back Damon Blocker was a one-man wrecking crew as he ran for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Junior running back Emmanuel Williams scored two touchdowns of 35 and three yards.
Although he didn’t have to do much, Central quarterback Jackson Firmin was efficient as he was 8-for-11 with 84 yards and a touchdown. He also had eight rushes for 40 yards.
The defense also held one of the top passing offenses in the New Orleans area to under 150 passing yards.
Central drew first blood when Firmin found Adyn Wilkinson for a 16-yard touchdown pass to make the score 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Central would not score again until less than four minutes left in the second quarter. After methodically moving the ball down the field, Blocker scored his first touchdown of the game when he took the snap as the quarterback in the Wildcat formation and found paydirt from 19 yards out to give the Wildcats a 15-3 lead over East St. John.
East St. John would cut into Central’s lead at halftime when quarterback Lorenzo Zeno, who replaced the original starter Kairan Smith, scored on a six-yard scramble on 4th-and-goal. The score would would be 15-9 at halftime.
On Central’s first drive of the second half, they would slowly but surely move the ball with run after run. Blocker would take the snap out of the Wildcat formation and explode through the line of scrimmage for a nine-yard touchdown. Firmin would then find Wilkinson for the two-point conversion to make the score 23-9 with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
Blocker would score his third touchdown from 13 yards out at the beginning of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach for East St. John.
Williams would punctuate the Wildcats’ dominant win with two rushing touchdowns of his own to showcase how dominant Central’s rushing attack had been throughout the night.
East St. John would finally find the endzone when Zeno found Kendall Walker for a 25-yard touchdown to account for the final margin.
Central improved its record to 8-3 and will travel to Monroe to take on one of the state’s biggest powerhouses, second-seeded Neville. East St. John’s season ends in disappointment as the Wildcats started the season 7-0 before losing four straight games.