Switch paying off for WSJ

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / September 27, 2000

EDGARD – With the loss of all-state quarterback Carl Gauthier and three Division I receivers to graduation, West St. John knew it would have todepend on its rushing attack and defense to carry it through the early part of its season.

Through the first four games, both components are getting the job done.

The trend continued Friday night in a 42-0 victory at Ridgewood in the District 9-2A opener. The victory improved the Rams to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in district play.

West St. John rushed for 246 yards in the game while holding Ridgewoodto minus 15 yards on the ground and four yards in total offense. The Ramsalso forced three turnovers and limited the Eagles to one scoring threat.

Devin Herbert led the way for the Rams with 102 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. The junior now has 434 yards and seventouchdowns on 55 attempts this season, the most yards in the local area in Class 2A.

Herbert, the starting running back for the Rams as a sophomore, opened spring practice as the team’s quarterback. It was a big step, having tostep in for Gauthier, an all-state quarterback who led the Rams to the state title in 1998.

“There was a lot of pressure,” Herbert said. “It was hard to fill a positionlike Carl’s.”After the spring game and the scrimmage against Lutcher, coach Laury Dupont decided to move Herbert back to running back and move Randall Nicholson up to quarterback. The move has paid off as the Rams areaveraging over 34 points per game in the 3-1 start.

“We wanted to put our best athletes on the field at the same time and get him (Herbert) the ball more,” Dupont said.

It was not the first time that Nicholson and Herbert have spent time together in the backfield. Herbert, who has been playing football since hewas 10, was a running back in the St. John Parish Recreation leagueswhile Nicholson was his team’s quarterback.

Herbert brings agility, speed and athleticism to the position. He said he isa better running back this year than he was as a sophomore when he was learning to play high school ball.

But Herbert knows he cannot do it alone in the backfield. AgainstRidgewood, Amone Lumar scored twice and rushed for 23 yards on five carries. Derron Thomas added another 40 yards on five carries andreturned a punt 48 yards for a touchdown.

West St. John will have a short week to prepare for its next game as theRams travel to New Orleans Thursday night to play Newman. Kickoff isscheduled for 7 p.m. at Lupin Stadium.Newman, the defending District 9-2A champions, are also off to a 3-1 start. Like the Rams, the Greenies lost their season opener but havebounced back to win their last three by a total of 12 points. The latest winwas a 14-10 come-from-behind victory at St. Charles Catholic last Friday.Newman trailed 10-0 in the fourth quarter before Damion Carter replaced Marsh Moseley at quarterback and guided the Greenies on two scoring drives, both set up by Comet turnovers.

Newman finished the game with 247 total yards, 184 coming through the air. The Greenies defense gave up 303 yards, 227 passing, but forced fourturnovers. Ryan Skertich ended the final Comet scoring threat with aninterception.

Heading into last week’s game, Moseley had been one of the area’s top quarterbacks with over 300 yards passing. His top receiver has beenHunter Powell, a senior who caught a touchdown pass Friday night. Thetight end is Bruce Fowler, who also scored against the Comets. TailbacksMiles Clements and Craig Baum and fullback Tres Cossaboom lead a rushing attack that was held to 63 yards against the Comets. As usual,Newman has a big line, led by senior tackle Andrew Gomila and junior tackle Ryan O’Dwyer.

Newman will look to blitz out of its 4-2 defense. Leading the rush up frontis senior linebacker Davis Webb and senior defensive end Hyatt Thompson.

Skertich leads a senior-laden secondary that also includes Michael McClure and Jimmy Kepper.

Junior kicker Todd Rhoden is one of the best in the area and leads a strong special teams unit.

A year ago, Newman contained West St. John’s potent passing attack,holding Gauthier to 145 yards. Penalties hurt the Rams in the game as theywere flagged 12 times for 103 yards.

West St. John holds its District 9-2A home opener next Friday againstBuras.

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