West St. John looks to maintain high level of play against Tigers

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2013


LAPLACE — West St. John swiftly took control in its 62-0 victory over Ascension Christian last week. The Rams will be expected by most to do so again this week as it prepares to travel to winless East Iberville, a team that has been shut out in four of its first six games this season.
West St. John coach Robert Valdez said that for his Rams, the early district schedule is more about reaching some in-house goals. He looks at it as a chance for the Rams to refine what they do well.
“We need to just focus on perfecting our trade,” said Valdez. “In some ways, we’re going back to preseason and working on the little things. Every time you take the field, you respect the game of football. That means giving your best effort and not allowing your performance to slip below the bar you’ve set.”
The Rams were electric on Friday. It took just four carries for Jeremy Jackson to tally 112 yards and three touchdowns.
But teammates Bradley Borne and Lamore Boudoin also made big impacts in the backfield. Borne continued his breakout season, rushing for 150 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries. Boudoin added two rushing scores of his own.
Valdez said the ability each has shown to step in when Jackson moves out of the lineup is going to be of even more importance going forward.
“We like to push the pace with our offensive system,” said Valdez. “When you run so much no-huddle and you’re constantly ‘go, go, go,’ it can’t be on just one back. You need a couple of kids because (Jackson) is gonna get tired. We want to maintain balance. Borne has really stepped forward, especially. He’s waited for his turn and he’s made the most of his opportunities.”
Quarterback Austin Howard also has shown a mental edge befitting of a quarterback that’s started nearly 40 games in his prep career. The senior has bounced back from a tough night against Holy Cross in Week 4 that saw him throw three interceptions — as many as he threw all of last season. He’s completed 15 of his last 18 passes for 284 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions over WSJ’s last two games. He’s also rushed for two scores in that span.
“He understands that we control our own destiny,” said Valdez. “With a quarterback, that short memory is a good thing. I think he understood we were a bit outmanned against Holy Cross. He didn’t have a good night, but he kept his head up. Our line and our backs are helping him out.’
 “A quarterback’s best friend is a great running game. He’s seeing a lot of good looks and he’s a kid that knows how to take advantage.”
Defensively, the Rams (4-2, 1-0)lost eight starters from a season ago, but have held some strong opposing offenses in check this season — most recently holding an Ellender team that averages more than 40 points per game in its other contests to 20.
The Rams’ three returning starters are defensive Brandon Mathews, linebacker Koi Rainey and safety Kylon Adams, and all have stepped up in a big way this season to give their team a leader and playmaker at every level.
Matthews was a wide receiver/linebacker last season and has been a terror on the edge for the Rams all season long.
“Brandon Matthews has been totally unstoppable,” said Valdez. “He affords us an opportunity to get more speed on the field. He’ll play in college as an outside linebacker or safety. He’s so strong and so aggressive and he puts pressure on the opposition.”
Rainey has made numerous big plays this season, including an defensive return for a score last week. Adams is the central brain of the defense, leading the secondary and making the calls and adjustments on field.
“Koi’s gonna hit you. He caused two fumbles last week. He just plays extremely hard and he’s always working,” said Valdez, noting Rainey also is one of the leaders on the offensive line. “Kylon is the quarterback of our defense. He makes the checks and he’s extremely heady.’
“These are guys who have started since an early age. They’ve played a lot of games and they’re extremely comfortable in our scheme. They’ve been huge.”