Rams look for payback
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011
By RYAN ARENA
EDGARD — If you’ve been looking for the “hot zone” on the West St. John schedule this season, you need search no further than its upcoming two-game slate.
The ninth-ranked Rams team has designs on winning a state championship, but wants to first secure district honors. To do that, they must go through defending state champion White Castle this Friday, then through St. John-Plaquemine in a televised Thursday night contest.
WSJ coach Robert Valdez is taking the tried-and-true approach of “one game at a time” though, and it’s easy to understand why. White Castle, while not off to the start that its championship squad boasted a year ago, defeated West St. John twice last year, outlasting the Rams in a pair of defensive slugfests, the second ending West St. John’s season in the bi-district round of the playoffs.
“They’ve still got that speed,” said Valdez. “When we look at them on film you can see it. They’ve still got Tyree Bracken, who in my mind is one of the very best running backs in the state. When you’ve got a kid like that, you always have a chance to win.”
Last season the Rams were able to relatively bottle up Bracken, but the White Castle defense did the same to the Ram offense en route to 12-6 and 12-0 victories.
“They’re going to come after you, crowd the line, pressure you, and they feel that they have the athletes to play man-to-man defensively,” said Valdez. “We have to make the most of our opportunities.”
If the Rams follow the same script as a year ago, then much of the responsibility of keeping the team within striking distance falls upon the teams pass rushers and secondary. Valdez said that last year, his team tried to make White Castle one-dimensional by taking away Bracken and the running game and forcing the Bulldogs to pass.
Offensively, WSJ can do just as well to limit Bracken and the Bulldogs by just holding onto the ball. That’s a goal that seems ever more attainable after a 47-19 win over Ascension Catholic that saw Kylum Favorite put up a monster game: 25 carries for 340 of WSJ’s 350 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
West St. John held the Bulldogs to minus-seven rushing yards and just 155 total yards.
Austin Howard completed eight of his 14 passes for 99 yards and two scores, to Moll and Austin Terry. Bradley Borne also scored a rushing touchdown.
Valdez hopes to see his team perform at that level of efficiency again.
“After we lost to them last year, they went on that run. It left us with a chip on our shoulders, because we felt like it could have been us making that run,” said Valdez.