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More than bragging rights on the line in clash of ranked teams

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / October 14, 1998

ST. JAMES – There was once a time that the Lutcher-St. James rivalry hadbegun to lose some of its luster.

No more. The rivalry has regained its shine in recent years and thisseason’s matchup could be the brightest it has been in quite some time.

Both the Wildcats and Bulldogs are 5-1 overall. St. James is 1-0 inDistrict 10-3A while Lutcher is playing its first district game of the season. Both teams are also ranked in the Louisiana Sports WritersAssociation’s Class 3A poll with the Wildcats ranked third and the Bulldogs ninth.

St. James is coming off a 41-6 victory over Plaquemine last Friday. TheWildcats ran for 347 yards, led by Chad Jasmin with 138 yards and three touchdowns. Jasmin is the leading rusher in the River Parishes with 790yards and 13 touchdowns on 93 carries.

But the Wildcats were also able to spread the ball around Friday night as Brian Batiste had 86 yards and Devon Dabney added 61 yards. All threerunning backs had seven carries. Corey Webster helped open up the runninggame by passing for 71 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense held Plaquemine to 184 yards and forced four turnovers. Forthe season, Chad Smith leads the Wildcats with four interceptions while Eltonary Oubre leads the way with 34 tackles. Jeremy Harry and RonBecnel each have three sacks.

“I like the progress the team is making,” St. James coach Rick Gaille said.”We are healthy for the most part. I like the way Corey is managing thingsand he is getting better with every snap.”The Wildcats will be facing what Gaille said is probably the best Bulldog team since he has been head coach at St. James. The Bulldogs are riding afive-game winning streak since losing their first game of the year to East St. John. The streak includes a 41-27 victory over Vandebilt Catholic Friday night.

The Bulldogs fell behind 13-0 in the first quarter but came back to take a 14-13 lead at halftime despite being outplayed according to head coach Tim Detillier. Lutcher made adjustments at halftime and got refocused andwent on to outscore the Terriers 20-0 in the third quarter to pull away.

Damian Ursin had touchdown runs of 1, 2 and 39 yards, and Jerron Wishom and William Adams also added touchdowns on the ground. The Bulldogsfinished the game with 231 yards rushing on 41 attempts. Thomas Rickshelped the Bulldogs mix it up offensively, passing for over 100 yards.

“Offensively, we have been getting better each week,” Detillier said. “Weare in district now and hopefully we are getting it together.”Gaille said the Bulldogs’ versatility make them even more dangerous.

“They are well-balanced offensively,” Gaille said. “They are veryexplosive. They have five or six guys who can take it the distance.”The Lutcher defense allowed 317 yards to Vandebilt but forced four turnovers with Rick Bleakley returning a fumble 70 yards for a score.

Detillier said the defense be tested this week.

“We are going to need a total team effort,” Detillier said. “They are solid.They are one of the best teams on our schedule and one of the best in the state, regardless of classification.”A lot will be on the line when these two match up. The winner could verywell have a leg up in the district race. And of course there are thebragging rights that comes with being the St. James Parish champion. St. James has won the last two games between the teams, including a 22-8 win last year, and leads the overall series 15-13.

Gaille said the enthusiasm surrounding the game is good but the players also have to keep their focus.

“You have to have the right perspective and play in control,” Gaille said.

“To play in control and be enthusiastic and confident is tricky. It is hardto do. We have to be enthusiastic about what we are doing without beingoverly intense.”Detillier agreed, saying that you want to stay within yourself and that turnovers will play a major factor.

“St. James doesn’t make mistakes too often,” Detillier said. “When theydo, you have to capitalize on them. The team that makes the leastmistakes will come out on top.”

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