Valdez nets first win as Rams top Bulldogs
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
After a lopsided loss at home to St. Charles dropped West St. John to 0-3, the Ram veteran players had a message for first year WSJ coach Robert Valdez.
“They told me, ‘Coach, don’t worry. We’ve been through this. We’ll be ok,’” said Valdez.
On Friday night, those players backed up their words as West St. John throttled White Castle in the District 9-1A opener for both teams, 32-7 at West St. John.
A season ago, the Rams bounced back from a 0-5 start under Laury Dupont to win nine straight games and finished as the state runner-up to South Plaquemines. It all started with a win over White Castle, which was a milestone for Dupont — his 200th victory.
This win was also a milestone for Valdez, his first victory at West St. John.
The Rams (1-3) ran for 237 yards and generated three touchdowns, a breakout day for an offense that had struggled in pre-district play.
“To come out and have success against a quality team like that, it means a lot right now,” said Valdez. “The kids knew we needed to win. I’m excited for them, and I’m excited that they can see that the system works if they have faith in it.”
Kenneth Dabney had 147 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Tyler Lewis carried eight times for 71 yards.
Brian Singleton gained 132 yards on 12 carries for White Castle.
At first, it looked like White Castle (1-3) might have been on its way to getting a leg up in the district race. Jonathan Roberts scored on a 4-yard run to put the Bulldogs ahead 7-0 after its first drive of the game.
But West St. John would force a stop on White Castle’s next drive. The Bulldogs would punt, but the Rams blocked the attempt and Demone Lewis would scoop it up and score on a 38-yard return.
West St. John took the lead for good after Daylon Feist scored on a two-point conversion run, making it 8-7.
It was the first of two successful conversion runs for Feist, who was making his first start in place of injured WSJ quarterback Dray Joseph, who missed the game with a rib injury.
“He stepped up and did a real good job,” Valdez said of Feist, who was 4-for-8 for 35 yards.
Dabney scored on a 21-yard run in the second quarter, then ran for the two-point conversion to make it 16-7.
Dabney’s second touchdown came in the third quarter, from 11-yards away. Feist found Corey Warmington for the two-pointer to make it 24-7.
Finally, Tyler Lewis capped things off in the fourth quarter with a 38-yard touchdown run.
The Rams defense was stout once again. Aside from the St. Charles game, the Rams defense has allowed no more than one offensive touchdown in any other game this season.
“The defense was lights out,” said Valdez.
This week, West St. John steps out of district play to host Jeanerette. It will then travel to East Iberville and North Iberville, both winless district foes. The Rams close with a game at home with Ascension Catholic, currently 4-1, in a game that could be for the district crown.
Valdez won’t project that far ahead, but says that as much as the early season schedule hurt in the win column, it may have set the Rams up for success yet again.
“What makes the transition easier from Coach Dupont to myself is that the players have been through this,” he said. “Now, we get into district and we’ve played some real top notch competition. When you play teams like that each week, the game slows down for you later on.”