Wildcats explode past Rebels
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
Romell Steib and Kenny Zenon combined to run for 225 of St. James’ 325 rushing yards Friday night as the Wildcats topped Riverside in the District 10-2A opener for each team, 35-0 at Riverside.
Steib played both ways, and had a big night on the defensive side of the ball as well, with six tackles and four sacks.
St. James (3-2) hurt the Rebels (3-2) with the big play time and time again, scoring on three plays of 40 yards or more.
For St. James Coach Rick Gaille, it was a much-needed strong performance by a Wildcats team that made far too many mistakes in an 8-7 loss to Curtis a week prior.
“In all three phases, we were very solid in what we were doing,” said Gaille. “We had a few offensive hiccups in the second half, but overall I was happy with how we played.”
Gaille said that the Wildcats emphasized physicality all week in practice, and the results showed it. Aside from the team’s 325 yards on the ground, the Wildcat defense was unrelenting for the second straight week, allowing Riverside only 57 yards of total offense.
Rebels Coach Tim Taffi felt that his team didn’t play up to the standard it set over the first four weeks of the season, particularly defensively – before Friday’s game, the Rebels had allowed one touchdown over the previous two weeks.
“We didn’t play well at all,” Taffi said. “I felt like some of our guys were doing their own thing on defense. We were undisciplined. You have to read your keys. When you don’t against a team like St. James, they make you pay. It’ll be a huge gain if not a score.”
The Wildcats got on the board first when Marcus Dumas created St. James’ biggest play through the air with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Lewis late in the first quarter, making it 7-0.
The lead grew to 14-0 midway through the second quarter after Zenon punched in a score from the Riverside 3. But the Rebels were still hanging tough at the half, staying within the two scores.
But momentum permanently swung St. James’ way early in the third quarter. Attempting to convert a second and 18 play from their own 32, the Wildcats called upon Steib, who got the first and much more – he broke loose for a 68-yard touchdown and the biggest gain of the night for either squad.
“It was a simple play. We caught them in a little more of a pass defense,” said Gaille. “Romell made a huge play out of it. That put us over the top. There’s a big difference in being two scores and three scores ahead.”
Said Taffi: “It’s like being a fighter. Once you make a mistake against a good fighter, you get knocked out.”
Dumas added a 46-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter, and Rojae Dumas scored on a 13-yard rush to cap things off.
Zenon carried 14 times for 110 yards. Steib gained 115 yards on only three carries.
Thomas Crouch led Riverside with 48 yards on six carries.
St. James turned it over four times in its loss to Higgins. Against Riverside, the Wildcats reversed that problem, turning it over only once.
“It’s a big win,” said Gaille. “We’re able to recover from the loss to Higgins, and at the same time come away with a win against a terrific opponent in Riverside.”