Rams look to tackle Ellender

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2014


EDGARD — West St. John coach Robert Valdez said he knew his team needed to play flawless football to have a chance against a strong Class 4A Holy Cross squad. As football generally goes, a day without flaws is hard to come by: the Rams fell, 28-8. 

Still, Valdez is pleased with his team’s approach and intensity level. These games against teams the likes of Holy Cross, Riverside and upcoming Class 4A Ellender (Friday night at West St. John, 7 p.m.) are preparing his team to make a run in Class 1A, where the Rams have been 25-3 under Valdez over the past three seasons, including two semifinal trips and one championship game appearance. 

“From Lutcher (in the preseason scrimmage), to East St. John, to St. James, Bogalusa, Riverside, Holy Cross … we could play different teams and have a prettier record, but we believe in this formula,” Valdez said. “It’s proven to lead to good things for us. Looking at the big picture, we don’t have the numbers to get out of practice nearly what we get in these games. We see teams with size, speed and serious athletes. By the end of predistrict, there isn’t much out there that’s going to shock us.

“It’s a baptism by fire, for sure.”

West St. John (2-2) beat Ellender on the road last season, 36-20, in a game that was close most of the way. 

The Rams’ rushing attack loomed large in that win. Then-senior Jeremy Jackson led the way with 147 yards rushing. Bradley Borne rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown, and the Rams hope he and Lamore Boudoin can replicate that rushing production this Friday against a high-scoring Patriots team that’s scored 28 points in each of the past two contests. 

“With coach (Terry) Washington there, you know they’re a threat to score at all times,” said Valdez. “They have some tremendous athletes, good speed and size across the board. We’ve got to show improvement.”

Ellender is 1-3 so far this season, with its lone win coming last week against St. Helena Central. The Patriots have losses to Terrebonne, H.L. Bourgeois and Madison Prep.

“I think we match up better with Ellender than we did against Holy Cross or Riverside,” Valdez said. “But they’ve got speed, and they spread you out. They do a good job of throwing out of the spread and using that speed. Defensively, they’re good at pressuring you. Our offensive and defensive lines have to play big for us to win. If we can run the ball effectively, then we can open up some real man-to-man opportunities, and that could lead to some good things.”

Ellender’s defense recorded five interceptions in its win over St. Helena Central. Montae Smitherman was responsible for two of them. Defensive back Kamil Green returned one for a touchdown. Ellender also blocked a punt for a score. 

“They’re like us in a lot of ways defensively,” Valdez said. “They run eight guys out there who you could define as linebackers-slash-defensive backs. They put as much speed as they can on the field. Their athleticism is a definite concern defensively.”