Nathan, Dabney score big as WSJ tops Basile

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Sports Editor

Over the past two seasons, West St. John has only lost one game to a fellow Class 1A opponent — to South Plaquemines in the 2007 state championship game.

After Friday night, that still holds true.

Terrance Nathan and Kenneth Dabney each scored on a run and a reception to lead the Rams over Basile, 28-0 in a Class 1A bi-district playoff game on Friday night in Edgard.

“These kids just have an attitude about them. They’ve been here before,” said West St. John Coach Robert Valdez. “They understand that you have to raise your level of execution each week in the playoffs. They can turn it up a notch.”

The win sets the stage for a rematch between West St. John (6-3) and No. 2 seed Ouachita Christian. Last season, the Rams toppled the Eagles in Edgard in the state semifinals.

A 15-point third quarter extended West St. John’s 6-0 halftime lead, and it was more than enough support for a Ram defense that hasn’t allowed more than 18 points in any game over the past six weeks.

“We knew they’d give us their best shot early. We turned it over a couple of times in the first half,” said Valdez. “But after that, we settled down.”

Nathan caught three passes for 41 yards. Dray Joseph completed 7-of-15 passes for 103 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran 10 times for 107 yards. Kenneth Dabney ran 19 times for 87 yards.

It was Joseph and Dabney who connected to net the Rams their first score of the night, as the two combined for a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter to make it 6-0.

“We ran it well in the first half. We just couldn’t finish drives due to some penalties and miscues,” said Valdez.

Nathan gave the Rams ample breathing room in the third quarter. First, he took an end-around 61 yards for a touchdown before catching a two-point conversion on a pass from Joseph to make it 14-0.

“We knew they were trying to eliminate our perimeter running,” said Valdez. “They didn’t want us to get to the outside. So we ran action off tackle and handed it off to Terrance going the other way. And once he turned on the jets, he was gone.”

Nathan’s second touchdown of the quarter — and third time crossing the goal line total — came on an 18-yard pass from Joseph that put the Rams ahead 21-0 after Donald Brown’s extra point kick was good.

“They played him inside for the slant, so Dray threw him a quick out. He made a great catch and run,” said Valdez.

Dabney added his second score of the night on a 15-yard run.

West St. John outrushed Basile 278 to 96, and gained 381 yards total. The Rams only punted once, and kept Basile (5-5) honest by mixing the pass and the run.

“Teams like to key on one element of what you do well,” Valdez said. “It’s when you’re balanced, when you can do both, that gives teams problems.”

The past month and change has been one of firsts for Valdez, who has seen his first coaching win at West St. John, his first district title, and his first playoff win all since Oct. 10.

But right now, those things are the furthest thing from his mind.

“Maybe later on, I’ll look back and say ‘Man, that was a really good first year,’” said Valdez. “But right now, our only focus is coming back to Edgard with another win on Friday.”