ESJ football team vows to play Friday

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 3 at 11:00 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
Email: kmoore@wwltv.com | Twitter: @katiecmoore

RESERVE, La. -- St. John Parish residents continued to do the hard work of recovery Monday with some water still standing in a number of areas.

That includes East St. John High School. The school district assessed the flood damage at it and Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School to determine how long it will take to rebuild.

In the meantime, the students are all hoping to get through it together.

In an assembly line of relief outside East St. John Elementary School, some hidden, hometown heroes in St. John Parish picked up ice.

“We got ice and water from the national guard because we don't have any of our Gatorade supplies,” said East St. John High School Football Coach and Athletic Director Phillip Banko.

The National Guard were stationed right next door to his football practice at East St. John High School Stadium on Monday.

“I can't wait to play,” said senior linebacker Justin Anderson. He’s one of 75 players on the football team whose homes flooded during Hurricane Isaac. That’s three quarters of the team.

“I got excited to see them because I didn't hear from them,” Anderson said.

Monday marked their first practice since storm surge from Hurricane Isaac sent flood waters into LaPlace neighborhoods for the first time.

“We've still got kids coming in. I had a momma just call me, they coming in from Texas. And actually he's gonna stay with me. I've got about five kids staying with me,” Banko said.

The field house where all the football equipment was stored was still under several feet of water several days after the flood waters started to move in.

Banko went in to survey the damage at the school last week.

“We opened the door. The stench was unbelievable and we had water moccasins trying to bite us,” he said.

Now with no pads, no cleats, no equipment, "hit" took on a new meaning for the team.

Despite that, Banko vowed they will play in Lake Charles on Friday.

“This game is so great because for two to three hours you don't have to think about anything in your life except for football,” he told the team.

The cheerleaders were in the same boat, all wondering where to report to school in two weeks.

“It hurt pretty bad, because I thought they were gonna split us all up. But they don't know what we're doing,” said cheerleader Dominique Travis. She lost everything during Hurricane Katrina while living in Chalmette. Her family moved to Laplace to escape the possibility of flooding.

Until any long-term decisions are made by the school district, Banko said he will find the equipment and they will continue to play together as a family, as East St. John.

St. John Superintendent Herbert Smith said this afternoon that they're considering the possibility of split shifts for the upper classmen in the 9th grade wing or at Leon Godchaux High School in Reserve.

Lake Pontchartrain Elementary Students will likely be split up among the other district elementary schools. Smith said they should know more about the high school Tuesday.

 

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