No. 2 Redemptorist topples No. 6 St. James in 3A clash

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 15, 2009



But for three plays, St. James coach Rick Gaille says, things could have played out much differently.

Instead, for the first time in a long time, his Wildcats sit at 0-2 after a Friday night loss to host Redemptorist, the second ranked team in Class 3A, 35-14.

The game was a potential playoff preview between the Wolves and the then sixth ranked Wildcats. St. James moved down to 10th in Class 3A with the loss.

“I thought, despite the score, that we played much better than we did a week ago,” said Gaille, referring to his team’s opening week 16-14 loss at home to West St. John. “I think if we continue to make that kind of improvement from week to week, we’ll be ok.”

But what swung the Redemptorist game, Gaille says, was a combination of three particular plays – ones he’d very much like to have back. A Redemptorist punt return for a touchdown, a missed downfield opportunity on a Wolves blown coverage, and a scramble by Redemptorist quarterback Deuce Coon on a third-and-19 play that saw him escape a pile and convert a first down.

“I thought the differential between the teams wasn’t as great as the score indicated,” said Gaille. “But we’re still a team learning how to play every single play as hard as we can. We’re trying to develop that mindset, and I think we’re capable.”

Redemptorist (2-0) led 14-0 after a Coon touchdown pass and Nico Talbert’s 75-yard punt return score before Jaleel Steib put St. James on the board with a 53-yard run of his own to make it 14-7 in the second quarter.

Redemptorist, though, scored three unanswered touchdowns – two short runs by Coon, one by tailback Jeremy Hill — to take a 35-7 fourth quarter lead. Steib would score again on a 1-yard plunge near the end of the game, but it was too late to make a difference.

“They’ve got a huge, 6’3, 200 pound tailback. Their quarterback is excellent, and their offensive line is very good,” said Gaille. “This is a team that can be explosive, but they can also just pound it at you.”

Gaille said it wasn’t just the scoring that set his team back, but Redemptorist’s ability to dominate the clock.

During one stretch, Gaille said his team mustered only five offensive snaps from the beginning of the second half until midway through the fourth quarter.

“They used their superior size and strength to maintain possession,” Gaille said.

“They played a good game of keep away.”

Redemptorist outgained St. James 323 to 196 in total yardage. The Wildcats struggled to pass the ball, mustering only seven yards through the air on one completion. St. James rushed for 189 yards on the night.