Rams putting in summer work before prep
Published 11:45 pm Friday, August 8, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
EDGARD—While the summer constitutes the offseason of prep sports, a number of West St. John teams remained hard at work.
The Ram football team, boys and girls basketball teams and volleyball teams counted themselves among those River Parishes teams competing in summer competition, getting in extra reps in order to hit the ground running once the school year starts.
The football and volleyball teams, as the prep schedules go, start their seasons first, and both football coach Robert Valdez and volleyball coach Glenda Mattos said their squads got in some valuable work against opposing teams.
The gridiron Rams kept busy, competing in four 7-on-7 tournaments and a handful of separate drills against other teams, including H.L. Bourgeois, Bonnabel, South Plaquemines, Helen Cox, Karr, Carver, McMain and Terrebonne.
The 7-on-7 squad peaked with a tournament runner-up finish against Amite in Southeastern’s first of two summer tournaments. The Rams competed in both tourneys at SLU, as well as the New Orleans Saints regional tournament and the Pro Camp tournament in Thibodaux.
“I thought we did moderately well,” Valdez said. “It’s a teaching drill for us to get our kids up to speed in as close to a game-like situation as possible. I as pleased with how we handled it.”
Valdez said a number of pass catchers stood out, headed by returning standout receiver Morrell Bartholomew.
“He’s gonna do his thing out there,” Valdez said. “He caught the ball well. We’re very, very excited about Dontrell Louper. We moved him to wide receiver this summer and we’re looking for some nice things out of him. We need some of these guys to step up as playmakers.”
Mattos has been using the summer as a season tune-up for awhile and said it’s a good tool for her to quickly learn which lineups are most advantageous for her team. It’s also a head start on her players learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We had a good summer last season, but I feel like this group has performed even better this year,” Mattos said, who also noted that the team loses just one starter from a year ago. “Brittany (August), my setter, and her teammates are so much more in sync with one another. She knows now where and what height each girl likes the ball set to finish.”
The Lady Rams basketball team has turned into a powerhouse under coach Lester Smith over the past few seasons. The team went just 3-5 in a local Round Robin basketball league competing with Lutcher, East St. John, St. James and St. Charles, but Smith said the team saw a lot of benefit from the competition.
The Rams were without the services of their two leading returning scorers for much of the way, as JuJuan Nicholas is recovering from knee surgery and Maya Trench played in just four games. Smith said that brought a silver lining, as it allowed him to see what his younger players can do in expanded roles.
“I thought Lakendra Lewis played pretty well,” Smith said. “We’re looking for her to step up. We got to play some of our eighth graders and they did pretty well too. I think it helps a lot with acclimating them to the speed of the game at the (varsity) level.”