West St. John offensive line gelling as Rams focus on ‘fine-tuning’ in practice

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2014


East Iberville (0-6, 0-1) travels to Edgard this Friday night to face West St. John, amid major struggles on both sides of the football. The Tigers have scored just 12 total points this season, all in a Week One matchup with Sophie B. Wright, and have allowed at least 34 points in each contest.

West St. John, meanwhile, has won two straight, outscoring Ellender and Ascension Christian by a combined 115-8 mark.

The Rams (4-2, 1-0) have hit something of a lull in the schedule.

But as WSJ coach Robert Valdez tells it, its not exactly “vacation time” for his players these days.

“Truth be told, these weeks may be tougher on them than the ones where we play a marquee matchup,” Valdez said. “We’re putting them through some very, very intense practices. Almost unbearable. We’re fine tuning the little things right now and working on getting our (offensive) tempo right. I don’t think, to this point, we’re where we want to be in regard to our tempo and pace.”

Valdez said the way a team handles a stretch like this tells much about its maturity level.

“You can’t get lazy or lose focus,” Valdez said. “There’s a lot of yelling, a lot of challenges from the coaches to the players.”

In addition, this will be West St. John’s homecoming game.

“A lot of coaches won’t come out and say this, but I will,” Valdez said. “Homecoming is not for the football team. Homecoming is for the alumni, the faculty and staff, the student body, the community … but as a football team, we’ve still got a job to do on Friday night. We can’t afford to get caught up in all the distractions and hype, and we can’t afford to let a week of preparation go to waste.”

One thing the Ram coaches have been pleased with is the development of the team’s offensive line, which paved the way for two 100-plus yard rushers last week in Bradley Borne and Lamore Boudoin.

The zone-read running game is the lynchpin of the Rams’ up-tempo offense, and winning at the line of scrimmage is more than necessary. More often than not, the revamped WSJ offensive line has been up for the challenge.

“Those guys work very hard,” Valdez said. “Everything they do, they’re building continuity and confidence, gaining experience.

“Our center’s a freshman. We have a sophomore and three juniors around him. They’re learning to play together.”