St. James, Rams clash in battle of winning teams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / September 1, 1999

EDGARD – Two of the top teams in the state in their classification will see where they stand as St. James visits West St. John to open the seasonFriday night.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at West St. John Stadium.West St. John won the Class 2A state championship last season while St.James advanced to the Class 3A semifinals and both are predicted to make similar runs this season.

“It means a lot,” West St., John coach Laury Dupont of what the gamemeans to the players. “It’s like a playoff game. It’s a stepping stone forwhere you are at in the season. It’s the real deal and the kids are excited.”Both teams are coming off losses in the Roussel’s Goodyear River Parishes Jamboree Thursday night. West St. John fell to Destrehan, 28-6, while St.James dropped a 19-7 decision to Riverside.

The Rams gained 225 yards in offense against Destrehan but struggled inside the 20 and turned the ball over four times. Carl Gauthier led theway with 136 yards passing on 10-of-25 passing and Amone Lumar added 37 yards rushing.

The Rams also struggled against the run, especially off the shotgun and off draws. Destrehan’s Deron Love rushed for 155 yards and threetouchdowns. The Rams will face a similar Wing-T offense in St. James.Both Destrehan and St. James also run out of the shotgun.”It’s very similar,” Dupont said, joking that it takes about 16 hours a day to prepare for all the looks St. James gives you. “We have to stop the runoff the shotgun. St. James does the same thing and we have to do betteragainst that.”St. James had a similar problem to West St. John in its game againstRiverside in that it moved the ball but failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities. Three times the Wildcats moved into Riverside and failed tocome away with any points. St. James’ only score came on a 95-yardkickoff return by Davin Dennis.

“That was disappointing,” St. James head coach Rick Gaille said of thefailed scoring attempts. “We were one play away from winning the gameand that’s all you can ask for under the circumstances. But we got all weneeded to get out of the jamboree. We got better from the beginning of thejamboree to the end.”The Wildcats are still missing players due to the boycott at the school.

The team is also having to make up about two weeks of practice.

“This football team is getting better in conditioning and getting better coordinated,” Gaille said. “Once we have those two we should seesignificant improvement.”In West St. John, Gaille said his team will face a team that is wellcoordinated and schooled in what they do.

Defensively, he said the Rams do a lot of movement to get their athletes around the ball.

“Defensively, we have to stop the big play,” Gaille said. “Offensively,when an opportunity presents itself, we have to be able to close the deal and get the ball in the end zone.”For West St. John, Dupont said it comes down to eliminating mistakes. Ayear ago, the Rams were within a touchdown at halftime until the Wildcats took advantage of a blocked punt, a punt return, a fumble on a kickoff and an interception to score 27 unanswered points in the second half.

“We have to eliminate mistakes on offense,” Dupont said. “We have to beaggressive on defense and contain their quarterback. He pulls all thestrings for them. If we eliminate the mistakes and don’t turn the ballover, we have a chance.”

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