Rams ‘Block’ elimination, off to quarterfinal against Oak Grove

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 24, 2009



When West St. John coach Robert Valdez saw his Rams’ opposition in person, to say he was impressed would be an understatement.

“They certainly passed the eye test,” said Valdez of Block’s mammoth size across the board.

That size came into play, as No. 22 seeded Block rushed for 254 yards and threatened to upset the Rams. But Kenneth Dabney’s 46-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave WSJ all the separation it needed to preserve a 21-13 Class 1A regional round victory at Block.

Dabney rushed 13 times for 118 yards to lead a 238-yard Ram rushing effort. Dray Joseph gained 91 yards on 12 carries.

Eighth seeded WSJ will host No. 3 seeded Oak Grove on Friday night. Oak Grove defeated St. Mary in the second round, 55-20.

The Rams (8-4) trailed at halftime, but held Block scoreless in the second half to give its offense a chance to steal the advantage back.

“Our defense did a phenomenal job in the second half,” said Valdez. “We forced three turnovers and didn’t allow the big play. Those things are always big.”

But Valdez pointed out that it was hardly a perfect effort – WSJ receivers dropped seven passes, including two potential touchdowns. It also saw a 70-yard touchdown play negated by an illegal procedure penalty.

“Just uncharacteristic mistakes,” he said. “These are mistakes you can’t afford to make on the road, in the playoffs, against a real good team like that. We need to clean that up before Oak Grove.”

Block (6-6) took the early lead when Deshawn Davis found receiver Curdarius Johnson for a 20-yard score in the first quarter. It put Block ahead 6-0.

The Rams jumped back into the lead when Joseph and Dabney combined for a big play – Dabney’s 41-yard reception from Joseph went for a score, and Stephen Brignac’s extra point kick put WSJ ahead by one.

Joseph finished four-for-12 for 112 yards.

Block went back ahead 13-7 on Preston Bowman’s 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Valdez said Block’s success running the ball came from a combination of size and misdirection.

“They run that Wing-T, and their backs did a good job hiding behind that big line,” said Valdez. “They did a tremendous job finding cutback lanes. My hat’s off to Block.”

Xavier Pierre pushed West St. John back up in the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Then, with the game in the balance, Dabney rushed to daylight, and Block was forced out of its comfort zone in the game’s late stages – it finished with only 21 passing yards.

“It was a huge play,” said Valdez. “To force them to have to play catch up, and get away from their game plan and into a sense of urgency…it’s not what they wanted to do at all.”