West St. John balancing winning tradition with updated look
Published 11:30 pm Tuesday, August 19, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
EDGARD — West St. John football coach Robert Valdez put his team’s new look in perspective.
“We want to be recognized as one of the top programs in the state,” Valdez said. “What better way to promote your school than to play in these big games and look good while you’re doing it?”
While West St. John has become known statewide for its deep playoff runs and explosive, up-tempo offense, Valdez and his team have also kept their look fresh and updated.
This season, fans will notice a tweak to the team’s uniforms as the players don helmets adorned by chrome Ram horns, similar to those on the helmets of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.
“It’s a new tweak to our style,” Valdez said. “It’s not anything that makes or breaks the tradition of your program.
“The thing about it is, when you’re dealing with kids, they get excited about little things like that. The horns shine out there and it looks good from a distance, like pipes on a Harley. They seem to like it.”
Senior wide receiver Morrell Bartholomew, the Rams’ leading returning pass-catcher, echoed his coach.
“I think Coach Valdez did a good job,” Bartholomew said. “I think (the helmets) look nice.”
Valdez chuckled and jokingly added, “He never compliments me. I’m going to write that down. I must have done something right.”
The chrome helmet logos add to another wrinkle added last season, when the Rams debuted new “smoke gray” jerseys to add to their traditional home blue and away white rotation.
West St. John donned the gray jerseys twice last season, once for the team’s season-opener at home against rival St. James and again for the team’s home playoff opener against Elton.
Incidentally, the Rams went 2-0 in those games, besting St. James 35-7 and Elton 68-20.
“They’ve been good luck for us,” Bartholomew said.
The Rams didn’t have many chances to wear the grey jerseys at home, with just four home dates on the schedule in 2013. A year later, however, that schedule has flipped. Seven of the Rams’ ten regular season games are at home. The team’s annual jamboree clash with East St. John will also be contested in Edgard.
Valdez said the alternates will likely just be used on special occasions, with the team sporting its traditional blue for most home dates.
“It’s a way for us to mix it up from time to time,” Valdez said.
For the coach entering his seventh season in the head position at West St. John, the changes are just another way for his team and community to stand out as unique.
“We try to deliver a festival-like atmosphere when you come to West St. John on a Friday night,” he said. “The football, the food, the music … there’s a lot of pride in all that we do.”