Rams push past ‘Canes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011



EDGARD — A 1A school that regularly plays up in classification in its predistrict schedule, West St. John doesn’t appear to be a team that’s most equipped for a rash of injuries.

But through two weeks, the Rams have responded to the losses of key personnel with “next man up,” and through a team wide effort the team stands at 2-0 entering this week’s road clash with Bonnabel.

The team’s top defensive player, linebacker Ronnie Feist, hasn‘t yet taken the field due to a back injury. Its breakout offensive producer of a year ago, running back Jeremy Jackson, was severely limited in last week’s win over South Plaquemines. The Rams (2-0) saw three more players go down in that game, and the list of those key players who have missed time extends longer.

But the Rams won’t use it as a crutch. Not that they need to, boasting an undefeated record.

“We’ll have a few gametime decisions this Friday,” said Valdez. “The silver lining is that when you hold one guy out of practice, you get to see what others can do with your first team.”

Jackson, wide receiver Jarius Moll, offensive linemen Willie Youngblood and Laron Washington and Feist all could be gametime decisions Friday. Dontre Turner, one of the defenses’ top playmakers, is expected to return after missing the first two weeks.

“We want them in the lineup, but we have to be careful,” said Valdez. “Someone like Ronnie, you certainly want here for the long haul.”

Bonnabel (1-0) and West St. John have split over their past two meetings, with the Bruins edging the Rams a year ago, 14-7.

The Bruins have a new head coach in Reggie Wilson but retain its spread offense. Last season the 5A squad finished 3-7. Defensive end Derrick Smith and quarterback Ryan Evans are among Bonnabel’s top playmakers.

Bonnabel opened its season last week after an opening week cancellation, defeating Clark 53-0.

“They’ve got two quarterbacks. One’s a slash type, the other is a passer,” said Valdez. “Preparing for two guys is always a challenge. They’ve got a big defensive line, big linebackers, and they’re athletic.”

The Rams’ scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to turn a 7-6 lead into its eventual 21-6 victory.

West St. John led 7-6 entering the fourth quarter. After the Hurricanes stopped the Rams on a third down run, Steven Brignac’s 55-yard punt set up his own key defensive play; after the Hurricanes took the ball on the ensuing drive, he’d recover a fumble and return it to the South Plaquemines 19-yard line. On the Rams’ first play after the turnover, they went for the end zone and found it, as Austin Terry shook a defender and found himself wide open to haul in a Austin Howard touchdown pass, making it 14-6. The extra point attempt was no good.

WSJ forced a three and out (though Justin Bethancourt’s interception was negated by penalty) and went to work from its own 30, handing the ball off to a hard-running Kylum Favorite and driving into SPHS territory.

Favorite carried a heavy workload on Friday with fellow back Jackson limited to few offensive snaps.

“I talked to my line. I just told them we needed a little surge,” said Favorite. “And we got that. I commend them for it. I told them I wouldn’t let them down, and I ran hard … Jeremy was real emotional. Not being able to be out there was killing him.”

On fourth down, Brignac would punt again. This time the Rams’ Trey Nathan downed the kick at the 2.

The Hurricanes narrowly avoided a safety twice, but the Rams finally broke through when a bad snap led to a fumble recovery and touchdown by Micah Claiborne, who fell on the ball in the end zone.

Favorite’s 3-yard touchdown run put WSJ ahead 7-0 with 10:32 left in the second quarter. South Plaquemines answered late in the first half on quarterback Lorne Barthelemy’s short touchdown run.

“South Plaquemines really came at us in the second quarter,” said Valdez. “We challenged our kids to face up to that and respond. They did that. Offensively, we were able to get our run game going. We made a few adjustments as well as the game went on.”