Video: Ponchatoula shines in scrimmage at East Jefferson
METAIRIE – The prospects for Ponchatoula appear better in 2019 than a year ago. Based on what we saw Thursday, make that markedly better.
Despite having a good offense a year ago led by LSU commit TJ Finley, the Green Wave struggled to a 2-8 season due to a woefully deficient defense.
A year later, the offense is still good while the defense is improved, perhaps much improved, much to the delight of veteran coach Hank Tierney.
Dodging rain Thursday evening, Ponchatoula scored four times while East Jefferson did not score in a scrimmage at Joe Yenni Stadium.
After allowing an alarming 43.6 points per game a year ago, the Green Wave appear ready to turn the page from that lingering nightmare.
“If we play defense like we did tonight, we will have a chance,” Tierney said. “Even though we are young, we are very talented. I was very encouraged by our effort on defense and by the way we performed. It was a pleasure to see us get turnovers and stops.”
In the preliminary session with each team having the ball for 12 plays at a time, Ponchatoula scored three times before adding a fourth score in the game-type scrimmage which lasted just one quarter before bad weather intervened.
Sophomore Tyrese Primus scored on a two-yard touchdown run but the real running star was sophomore Braydon Johnson, who set up the Primus touchdown with a 62-yard run and later scored on touchdown runs of 12 and one yard.
“We had Tyjae Spears last year who is now at Tulane but I like our running backs this year,” Tierney said. “Both are sophomores with really good futures. Johnson showed speed and power.”
Up front, freshman defensive lineman Tyler Bailey played really well and junior linebacker Albert McCarty has an interception but the secondary will be the strength of the Green Wave defense.
Senior Javier Dawson played very well but the real star was Jacoby Matthews.
The prized sophomore had two interceptions on defense and caught three passes on offense. Matthews has already been offered by LSU.
“With TJ, we’ll have a chance in every game,” Tierney said. “We started seven sophomores on offense who are only going to get better. We will use Matthews and Johnson on both sides of the ball to put our best players on the field. Matthews has elite ability. He has a chance to be very special and I have been fortunate to coach some great players.”
Finley hooked on a pair of 47-yard completions, one to Amorion Walker and the other to Matthews and he tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Kody Finley.
For East Jefferson, Byron James and Desmond Feast recovered fumbles while one shining moment offensively was a 26-yard completion from Koby Marquez to Jermaine Guillard. Senior running back Marvin Smith showed promise with quickness.
While disappointed, Warriors coach Frank Allelo saw some value in the experience.
“It’s great to play them because they are well coached and they are talented,” Allelo. “They punched in the mouth and we will learn from it. We will be ready. That’s why they give you a bunch of weeks to get ready. I thought offensively, after the first 12 plays, we got past the nerves and excitement and settled down a little bit. We started off like we never practiced in our life. We had one decent job. It’s a learning experience.”
The Warriors played most linemen both ways.
“If we work the same way, prepare the same way and don’t pick it up, we will get the same results,” Allelo said. “I think we will be better than we were tonight by Monday.”
Both teams face very stiff challenges next weekend.
Ponchatoula will host talented De La Salle in jamboree action at 7:30 p.m. at The Swamp while East Jefferson will take on East Ascension in second game of a jamboree at about 6:30 p.m. at Joe Yenni Stadium.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…