Local coaches give insight on Saints, Colts

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 6, 2010



This week, L’Observateur asked the four St. John Parish football coaches their thoughts on the keys for Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.

Riverside coach Mickey Roussel believes balance is the key to a Saints win.

“If they stick with the run and do it effectively, you keep Peyton Manning on the sideline. If he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, he can’t hurt you.”

Roussel also said that he believes the Saints defense is being underrated by the masses, citing some of the key injuries the team suffered in the second half of the season, including all three of its top cornerbacks.

“They had a pretty long stand without some of their better players,” said Roussel. “But with those guys in the secondary back, you’ve seen it in the playoffs. It’s a totally different team. If you’ve won 13 games in the season ranked 25th overall defensively, then some other parts of your team are obviously doing a great job.”

St. Charles coach Frank Monica also said that he thinks the Saints have several advantages, but stressed the importance of making the Colts one-dimensional – and not in the traditional way of stacking against the run.

“I don’t think Indianapolis’ run game is nearly as impressive as their passing game,” said Monica. “And you can’t blitz Peyton. I think they’re better off dropping eight and making him throw into zones.

“But you won’t fool him. The other big key is they can’t give up cheap touchdowns — the Jets gave up some big plays.”

He also believes that the Saints just defeated a better team than they’ll see on Sunday.

“Minnesota is a more balanced team. Indianapolis rely on that explosive offense,” said Monica. “But I really think Minnesota prepared them for this game.”

East St. John coach Larry Dauterive agrees on the Minnesota theory, but takes it a step further.

“I don’t think the best team won last week,” said Dauterive. “When you look at the yardage breakdown and everything that happened with the turnovers … but clearly, this seems to be a team of destiny.

“Freeney’s hurt, everything seems to be breaking right. I really feel like this is their year.”

He called the Saints rise to the Super Bowl a “prime example of Americana.”

“When you see perseverance, and how for over 40 years they just try, try, try .. eventually good things will happen,” he said.

West St. John coach Robert Valdez said that the off the field adjustments could be as important as those on the field.

“You have to be able to handle the buildup and the atmosphere of such a big game,” he said.

Like his peers, Valdez points to the matchup between Manning and the Saints now-healthy secondary as a crucial chess match that will largely determine the next Super Bowl champion.

“That Saints’ defense is opportunistic. They create a lot of turnovers,” Valdez said. “You’ve got to find a way to pressure Manning, and you definitely have to win that turnover battle.”

One thing is for sure — while all four men are rivals on the Friday night gridiron, they’ll be united on Sunday.

“There’s a piece of all of us in that team,” said Dauterive. “If you’re Louisiana born and bred, that’s your team.”