Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011



EDGARD — West St. John coach Robert Valdez expects an electric atmosphere Thursday night in Edgard. It’s easy to envision it as he does.

The Rams certainly have reason to be charged up. They’re facing rival St. John-Plaquemine, for at least a share of the District 9-1A championship, in a game televised by Cox Sports Television — the first such occasion that the school has seen a regular season game televised as its “Game of the Week.”

“It’s just exciting,” said Valdez. “As a head coach, you always want to keep your guys even-keeled. But there’s a lot of excitement from not just our players, but the fans and the community. Everyone’s pumped up.”

The matchup offers plenty of intrigue on its own merit. Each team stands at 6-2 and faced a tough slate of pre-district competitors (in St. John’s case: Livonia, Belaire, Opelousas Catholic, Brusly and Kentwood). The two have traded victories as the rivalry was renewed two years ago, West St. John winning by a touchdown last season, St. John winning by a single point in overtime in 2009.

“We’re very familiar with one another,” said Valdez. “Coach (Tut) Musemeche and I have been coaching against one another for years, even before I got to West St. John and he got to St. John. They’re a hard-nosed, blue-collar team. They’re battle tested and follow basically the same formula we do with the tough pre-district.”

St. John runs what Valdez terms as a “hybrid Wing-T” offensively, and run out of the 3-4 defensively. Running backs Davonte Williams and Christian Premeaux may all but have their faces plastered on Old West-style “WANTED” posters in the Ram locker room — they make the St. John offense tick, combining for 242 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s 62-0 win over East Iberville.

St. John has won four straight, including a victory over defending 1A champion White Castle, 21-13, two weeks ago.

West St. John can claim the same, vanquishing the foe that ended the Rams’ season a year ago. WSJ downed host White Castle 51-8 on Friday night in a game the Rams began hot and never cooled in.

The Rams put things away early, climbing to a 37-0 lead at halftime

Favorite got things started on a 4-yard touchdown run. His own two-point conversion run made it 8-0.

The Rams struck next on special teams, as Jarius Moll took a White Castle (2-6, 1-2) punt the distance on a 55-yard return for a touchdown. Steven Brignac’s point after kick made it 15-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Favorite scored for the second time in the second quarter, from 27 yards away to make it 22-0. Lawrence Williams was next to cross the stripe, scoring from 10 yards out, hauling in a Howard touchdown pass. Howard tossed his second soon after, this time finding Moll for a 11-yard touchdown reception. A Favorite two-point run made it 37-0.

Favorite and Howard each scored rushing touchdowns in the third quarter.

“I didn’t have to work hard to motivate them,” said Valdez. “It’s exciting, as a coach, to see the fruits of your team’s labor show like that in such a key game. The focus and intensity was there throughout. We controlled the lines, like we’ve been preaching for weeks. Defensively, we were very good. We’ll need to continue to play at a high level this week.”