Potential shootout on tap for Rams

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2012



EDGARD — Don’t blink.

That’s perhaps the best advice for anyone who plans to be attendance at Friday night’s Class 1A state quarterfinal game between West St. John and host Vermilion Catholic, one featuring a clash between teams that love to push the pace and the play count through an Oregon Ducks-esque no-huddle.

Vermilion Catholic averages 46.3 points per game against Class 1A competition. West St. John piles up 52.1 points per game against their 1A peers.

“Hopefully, we can expect fireworks from our side, and not so much on theirs,” said WSJ coach Robert Valdez with a laugh. “We’ve got to do what we can to not allow the big plays that they’ve become known for.”

It’s a rematch of last season’s Class 1A semifinal between the teams; that game broke out into a 54-41 shootout that the Rams won just a week after winning an 15-8 defensive slugfest over Haynesville.

“It was a classic high school football game,” said Valdez.

The two offenses are near mirror images of one another, each led by a pair of multitalented running backs and a highly efficient quarterback.

For the Rams (8-3), Kylum Favorite and Jeremy Jackson have been among the state’s most dynamic 1-2 punches. Favorite’s straight-ahead power and Jackson’s shiftiness and speed have made the two perfect compliments to one another; both have also been highly productive receivers.

Within the Rams’ no-huddle, it’s allowed West St. John to constantly keep a defense off balance. The duo stays on the field together on most downs, leaving a defense very little time to discern which one is the primary back on a play.

The duo combined to rush for 291 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries Friday in the Rams’ 48-12 regional win over White Castle.

Favorite, who was the team’s primary back with Jackson sidelined much of last season, piled up 272 yards and four scores against Vermilion Catholic last season.

The Eagles (10-1), meanwhile, have a 1-2 punch of their own in Michael Campbell and Dustin Desormeaux. Campbell rushed for 183 yards and a score in Vermilion Catholic’s 40-7 win over Cedar Creek last week, while Desormeaux rushed for 82 yards and a score. The duo also combined for 102 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Their all-around production complimented Eagles’ quarterback Brandon Gallet, who passed for 154 yards and three touchdowns.

The Rams’ Austin Howard, meanwhile, completed 8-of-12 passes for 98 yards and two scores.

The junior is playing the best football of his career to date since the Rams embraced the heavy no-huddle philosophy for its district game with White Castle; He’s completing a razor sharp 78 percent of his passes over that five game span for 735 yards and nine touchdowns.

“There are a lot of similarities,” said Valdez. “They throw the ball well, but they want to establish the run first. And that’s really going to be indicative of what this game comes down to … can your offensive line block their defensive line and vice versa, who controls this game up front.”

One way the Rams are attempting to create an advantage, Valdez said, is by having a series of intense practices leading up to the game.

“You’d like to come out for that game and throw a kind of physicality at (Vermilion Catholic) that might not be familiar with,” said Valdez.