Gridiron season begins with a bang

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 3, 2002

By George Mahl

HAHNVILLE – Thursday night’s jamboree games felt more like two regular season games.

The atmosphere in the crowd made it feel like a playoff game throughout the night. Four teams and two games made up one exciting night.

The first game saw St. Charles Catholic High School come back to defeat West St. John High School 20-14. The Comets trailed at one point 14-6.

The night cap saw a physical game between Hahnville High School and St. James High School end in a 20-20 tie. St. James had to rally late to earn the draw.

West St. John vs. St. Charles Catholic

Fans may agree the opening jamboree game between the WSJ Rams and the SCC Comets could be described as a David versus Goliath match-up.

The Comets may be a small team, but a big heart is what got them the victory Thursday night.

“It’s a another step in the right direction for us,” said Comets head coach Frank Monica.

With 31 seconds remaining in the game, quarterback Jeremy Catoire connected with Chase Grob for a 23-yard touchdown catch to seal the deal. Catoire finished the game with 94 yards passing.

“We made some mistakes out there tonight, but hung in there,” SCC running back Tyrell Fenroy said.

With 4:33 left in the first half, the Rams jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead. Running back Initius Howard ran toward the right sideline, reversed his field and scored from 23 yards out in one of the most exciting plays of the game.

“It was a sweep right play, but when the blocking broke down I went the other way, got a block and scored,” said Howard.

The touchdown capped a five-play, 88-yard drive for West St. John. A key play on the drive was quarterback Randall Nicholson firing a 37-yard strike to Thomas Augusta on third and 10 from the Rams 16 yard line.

West St. John went into halftime with a 6-0 lead.

“We didn’t compete well in the first half. Some of our kids were out of position,” said Monica.

With 11:39 remaining in the second half, the Comets, a district 3A team, got on the scoreboard when Catoire found Grob in the endzone from 17 yards out.

Catoire only completed two passes on the drive, however, one of them was for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and the game was tied at six.

Each team took the ball across the goal line during its next possession. On first and 10 from the Comet 46 yard line, Nicholson completed a 21-yard pass to Sandy Harris to put the Rams near the Comets’ 20 yard line.

Three plays later, the senior quarterback found Brad Boudoin to put the Rams up by eight, 14-6.

Fenroy took the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to put the Comets back into the game.

“The kickoff return jump started us tonight,” said Monica.

In fact, most of the special teams for St. Charles Catholic played well Thursday. Punter Daniel Leblanc often made the Rams play on a long field.

Once again, the Comets missed the two point conversion following the kickoff return, thus giving West St. John a two-point lead.

“I think that they out-hustled us tonight,” Rams coach Laury Dupont said. “We did not play with any emotion tonight.”

On the other hand, there was no shortage of excitement for the players.

“It did not feel like a jamboree out there. I felt like I was in a big game,” said Rams linebacker Jeremy Moll.

Optimism about the regular season remained high on both sides.

“We will come together as a team quickly,” said Howard.

Monica added, “I hope we get better. We have got to grow up in a hurry.”

The Rams will open the regular season Friday at St. James. The Comets open the season against St. Paul’s Friday in Laplace.

“They (St. Paul’s) are a big, physical team that concerns me,” Monica said.

St. James vs. Hahnville

HAHNVILLE – The night cap of the first night of the River Parish Jamboree featured an exciting game between the St. James Wildcats and the Hahnville Tigers. Like the previous game, it pitted a small school against a large one. The game was almost a duplicate of the first, except in the final score.

A Desi Steib 31-yard punt return put the Wildcats in field goal range with 17 seconds left. However, Jarrel Price missed a 26-yard kick as time expired, thus the game ended in a 20-20 tie.

“It was a war out there,” said HHS coach Lou Valdin.

Wildcats head coach Rick Gaille added, “They (Hahnville) clearly made us elevate our play tonight.”

Hahnville’s first possession resulted in the Tigers’ first points. Quarterback Laron Landry ran it in from the five to give Hahnville a quick 7-0 lead with 9:10 remaining. The touchdown finished off an impressive 10-play, 68-yard drive.

A 28-yard touchdown pass from Wildcats QB Blake Falgoust to Steib tied the score at 7-7.

The most exciting play of the night, between the two games, was a touchdown strike from Landry to Pernell Nash with 1:22 left in the half. Landry ran around the backfield, then from one side to another, until he found Nash near the back of the endzone for a 37-yard score.

This gave Hahnville a 13-7 lead going into the locker room at halftime.

Landry finished the first half with 53 yards passing.

“Laron has got a lot of poise. He didn’t lose his composure too much tonight,” said Valdin.

A six-play, 71-yard drive ended when Lionel Evans ran it in from the five to give the Tigers a 20-7 lead.

With the way the Tigers defense was playing, a two touchdown lead seemed insurmountable. However, the Wildcats offensive line began to take control up front.

Melvin Dumas’ 38-yard run with 7:48 remaining in the game cut the HHS lead to seven. The turning point of the game came when Steib intercepted a Landry pass with about seven minutes left.

“We expect Desi to make plays like that for us. He is one of our guys that can make things happen quickly,” said Gaille.

On the next play, Dumas scampered 35 yards to tie the game at 20.

“Our offensive line just took over late in the ball game,” said Wildcats center Emmanuel Sterling. “I think we proved tonight that we can physically and mentally hang with a 5A school.”

Valdin was just as pleased with his team’s pre-season performance.

“I got everything I wanted to get out of tonight’s game,” said Valdin.

One of the most noticeable errors from St. James was in the play of its special teams. The Wildcats missed a couple of field goals and an extra point. However, Gaille made a point by saying, “That’s why we have jamboree games. We need this jamboree to find our mistakes before the regular season.”

According to Valdin, the clash with St. James was more than simply a jamboree contest.

“Anytime you have two River Parish teams it means more than just a practice game that does not count,” Valdin said.

Hahnville will open the regular season Friday by hosting Sarah Reed, while the Wildcats begin the season at home against the West St. John Rams.