WSJ looks to make run as 1A play starts

Published 4:13 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013


 West St. John beat three higher classification foes and pushed two others in predistrict play.
Now, the Rams prepare to kick off Class 1A competition and with it District 8-1A play as it hosts Ascension Christian Friday night. And after hardening itself against a tough slate of non-district foes, West St. John now hopes its ready to accomplish its true goal: to not lose again this season.
The Rams are ranked fifth in the LSWA Class 1A poll but have designs on winning it all after a state runner-up and then a state semifinal appearance over the last two years.
West St. John’s 36-20 victory over Ellender suggested the Rams are ready to make another big push, with both the Rams offense and defense answering the bell after a 23-0 loss to Holy Cross.
Rams coach Robert Valdez was especially proud of a defense that held a Patriots team that averaged 46 points per game through its first four weeks to just 20 on Friday.
“(Ellender) has a heavy hitter at running back,” said Valdez. “He’s a big guy, a bruiser. We had to make sure tackles.’
“We play a fast tempo offensively, but we also want to play fast on defense, to fly around and make those big hits. I couldn’t have been more proud of our effort.”
A concern for the Rams two weeks ago was the health of tailback Jeremy Jackson, who injured his shoulder in West St. John’s 35-32 loss at Riverside. Jackson missed the Holy Cross game but returned on Friday night from a shoulder sprain, tallying 254 offensive yards and two touchdowns.
Even when Jackson has missed time, though, the Rams have been able to count on a consistent push from its offensive line. Seniors Dontre Smalls (6-foot-5, 325) and Dustin Sorapuru (6-foot-3, 275) are two of the most imposing figures in Class 1A and supply the kind of size to the Rams’ offensive line that few can match.
Valdez openly challenged his linemen to step up their effort and dedication before this season and they’ve answered the call.
“You can take away the title of athletic director and head coach, and at the end of the day, I’m still an offensive line coach at heart,” said Valdez.
“I take a lot of pride and have a lot of passion for offensive line play, because that’s where I played.
“The great thing for us right now is that we’ve got two or three kids pushing for playing time behind our starters. It creates competition, and it’s always good to have that. It doesn’t enable anyone to get comfortable.”
Ascension Christian enters with a record of 1-4. ACHS’ defense has struggled this season, allowing 46 points or more in three of its five games. Its lone win came in Week 3, a 21-20 victory over Ridgewood.