Rams, Eagles set for big rematch in regional

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2011



EDGARD — Just over two weeks ago, West St. John scored what probably stands as its biggest victory of the regular season, a 36-20 win over district rival St. John-Plaquemine that all but wrapped up the District 9-1A title for the Rams.

That game was the school’s first ever in the regular season to be played on Cox Sports Television, and a festive, frenzied crowd was in attendance at West St. John.

But this Friday’s game will be bigger. St. John is back for a rematch. And this one, by any definition, is for keeps as the Eagles (8-3) visit Edgard Friday night for a regional round matchup.

The sixth seeded Rams (9-2) are no strangers to drawing district rematch, having just gone through it a season ago with two matchups with eventual state champion White Castle.

West St. John coach Robert Valdez said that he doesn’t believe its an accident that the Bulldogs went on a title-winning run after felling the Rams, and that he felt there was a good chance that these teams would cross paths again.

“I really believe this district, I’d call it the premier district in Class 1A,” said Valdez. “Usually, whoever comes out of this district can make a run.”

He noted the adage that it’s difficult to defeat a team twice in one season. At the same time, he said that each team should benefit in terms of preparation. Between these two rivals, teams that have played down to the wire in previous encounters, there are no secrets.

“They know what you do and vice versa, when you talk about a rival,” said Valdez. “So it comes down to who wants it more, who has more pride, who is able to execute their plan.

The Rams’ win on Oct. 28 saw a number of stellar offensive performances. Senior Jarius Moll scored four touchdowns, including three receptions and a punt return. Junior Kylum Favorite was dominant on the ground, piling up 259 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Howard threw three touchdown passes.

WSJ added one more impact player into the mix, as Jeremy Jackson returned in Friday night’s 59-0 bi-district playoff win over Sacred Heart. Jackson rushed five times for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Last season he led the Rams in rushing as an eighth grader, but expectations of an even bigger season were derailed by injury — Jackson has been out of the lineup since early September.

“The good thing is, you know what Kylum and Jarius can do, and now you have to worry about Jeremy,” Valdez said. “He adds some extra firepower … he’s got so much potential to break a long one each play.”

Of chief concern for West St. John will be slowing St. John’s Wing-T rushing attack. While the Rams led throughout the last meeting, the Eagles were able to move the ball with consistency via the ground game. Eagle backs Davante Williams and Christian Primeaux combined to rush for 307 yards and two touchdowns.

“What they do is hard to simulate in practice,” said Valdez.

“The good news is we do have an extra day to prepare, after the last game being on Thursday.”

St. John toppled Hanson with ease in the first round, bullying their way to a 56-6 victory.

The Rams, meanwhile, coasted to a win of their own on Friday. Jackson’s return complimented another dominant outing by Favorite, who needed just nine carries to rush for 176 yards and three touchdowns.

Howard completed 6 of 13 passes for 100 yards and three scores, two of those going to Lawrence Williams, who led the Rams in receiving with two catches for 44 yards. Moll caught Howard’s other scoring toss.

“Teams account for Moll, but we’ve got other guys who can step up and make plays and Lawrence made some spectacular plays tonight,” said Valdez. “We’re really blessed to have guys that we can spread the ball around to and know they’ll make plays.”

The Rams held Sacred Heart to 133 total yards.

West St. John scored three times from 30 yards away or more.

They’ll need that explosiveness again this week, just as they had last month.

“It’s almost like a semifinal-level game, just in the second round,” said Valdez. “Right now, our whole season revolves around beating St. John.”