9-1A may come down to Rams, Bulldogs

Published 1:26 am Wednesday, October 17, 2012



EDGARD — If recent history is any indication, Friday night’s game pitting host West St. John against visiting White Castle might serve as a predictor as to who is primed to make a run in Class 1A.

A year ago, West St. John won District 9-1A and made a run to the Superdome, where it finished as state runner-up. En route to doing so, the Rams trounced White Castle, 51-8.

But a year prior to that, the Bulldogs had the upper hand, not only defeating the Rams during the regular season en route to a district crown, but also in the bi-district round of the 1A playoffs. White Castle rode the momentum all the way to a state championship victory at the Superdome, victors over Ouachita Christian.

As their score against the Rams would indicate, the Bulldogs took a step back a year ago, falling to 4-7 in their title defense season.

But under first year coach Lamar Thomas, White Castle already has exceeded its 2011 win total. The Bulldogs are 6-1, including two blowout victories in district play over East Iberville and St. John.

The Rams and the Bulldogs enter the game as the only teams left in District 9-1A with undefeated marks; the winner will be heavily favored to go on to secure the district crown.

“This is for the district championship,” said West St. John coach Robert Valdez. “That’s what this is about. The winner of this game is going to have a strong hold on this thing, for all intents and purposes.”

In White Castle, the Rams will face one of the most explosive offensive teams in Class 1A. The Bulldogs average 43.4 points per game and has topped 50 in each of its last four contests. White Castle defeated Class 3A Port Allen in its last non-district game, 50-45; the 45 represents the most scored against a quality Pelican defense this season.

Thomas’ team runs an option offense similar to the Wing-T — and it is effective. White Castle rushed for 379 yards last week in its 54-7 win over St. John-Plaquemine. Running backs Robert Franklin and Tyree Lang each topped 100 yards on the ground, both scoring three times.

“Because we don’t see that offense very often, they’re very dangerous,” said Valdez. “They’ve got a few guys who are really shifty and that can break loose. They run a lot of misdirection. It’s critical that we keep them at bay and control our assignments.

“They’re very, very fast, and they’re playing at a high level. (Thomas) is an experienced coach and he’s got them buying in.”

Defensively, White Castle’s strength is in its defensive line. Valdez said that he expects the Bulldogs to aim for disruption and bring pressure.

Last week the Rams looked ready to handle such, however; Austin Howard threw five touchdown passes, while both Jeremy Jackson and Kylum Favorite had sensational days on the ground.