Scrimmages reveal work in progress: St. John football teams going through growing pains

Published 12:03 am Saturday, August 22, 2015

RESERVE — Thursday was a rough night for St. John the Baptist Parish football teams.

East St. John, St. Charles Catholic and West St. John all took their lumps in scrimmage play with losses to quality opponents.

ESJ coach Alden Foster gives a pep talk. (Kyle Barnett/L’OBSERVATEUR)

ESJ coach Alden Foster gives a pep talk. (Kyle Barnett/L’OBSERVATEUR)

The bright side is while the scrimmages were sanctioned events, they do not count towards the teams’ records and only offered players after a long summer and fall training camp the opportunity to matchup against outside opponents.

East St. John versus Edna Karr

An important piece of the East St. John Wildcats was missing Thursday when they scrimmaged against Edna Karr.

Senior Dontrell Allen, who committed to Mississippi State University this summer, and slated to play running back and cornerback for the Wildcats was nowhere to be found.

Following the scrimmage head football coach Alden Foster said Allen had not been to practice in two weeks.

“That kind of put us in a bind because we went through camp and until two weeks ago and then all of the sudden he doesn’t show up to school and says he is going to another school and you’ve built your offense around him and Da’Monte (Coxie),” Foster said.

Foster said there were a few plays he could identify that if Allen had been in the game he would have used his speed to turn a corner and run in for a touchdown.

“We just kind of have to find another identity on offense,” Foster said.

For now that rests solely in the hands of 6-foot-3 senior wide receiver Coxie, who transferred in this year from Tara and only weeks ago committed to LSU.

At the end of the first portion of the scrimmage, Coxie reeled in a short out route and shed three tackles to rumble into the end zone on a 20-yard score.

Two plays later senior quarterback Alvin Jackson put a well placed ball into the corner of the end zone, allowing Coxie to stretch out and make a catch for another score.

“My team was down and I knew I had to make a play,” Coxie said. “I told coach, ‘put me up over there by myself and just let me go to work.’ So he lined me up over there and the first time the cornerback looked scared, so I knew I had him already. After that they threw it up and I made it, made a play.”

Coxie said he feels he is ready for the regular season already.

“I can’t wait to get after everybody on our schedule, all of them, every team,” Coxie said. “I am ready.”

Foster said Coxie’s play in the scrimmage made a statement.

“He is the real deal, even when they know he is getting the ball,” Foster said.

Up until those two plays it had been rough going for ESJ. Edna Karr racked up 42 points before the Wildcats answered back.

“In the scrimmage portion, especially with a young group, you could see we were wide eyed and missing people,” Foster said.

While the team ended the scrimmage portion of play 42-14, they tightened up in the 25 minute game to end the night, only allowing one score by Edna Karr, which came off a short field after ESJ fumbled the ball deep in its own territory and went offsides the next play that set Edna Karr up on the 11 yard line.

“We outgained them, we never punted and of course they got the ball off a turnover,” Foster said.

The difference between winning and losing the game came down to a few plays one way or the other, which Foster said was a positive thing for him to take away from the scrimmage. and was impressed with his kids’ ability to bounce back and put up a fight.

“I am just glad to see the resilience they showed and the play they made at the end compared to the beginning,” Foster said.

ESJ next travel for its jamboree game at 7 p.m. Friday in Amite.

St. Charles Catholic at University Lab (Baton Rouge)

St. Charles Catholic head football coach Frank Monica summed up their scrimmage performance in one tightly constructed sentence.

“It was just a good old fashioned butt kicking,” Monica said.

University Lab scored seven touchdowns to SCC’s three.

The one highlight of the game was as 55-yard pass from quarterback Patrick Ratliff to speedy running back/wide receiver Tahj Smith, who took the ball down to the one-yard line after which senior running back Justin Loupe punched in a short touchdown.

Coming into the scrimmage SCC’s defense was anticipated to be its strong suit with eight starters returning to fill out the entire secondary and linebacker units. However, Monica said that was not the case Thursday.

“We just aren’t prepared yet,” Monica said. We aren’t ready to open up the season. I feel like I have to go back to camp.”

The secondary got burnt for a number of long passes allowing University Lab to score often.

“We weren’t even competitive,” Monica said.

“We missed assignments and they knocked us around. We didn’t show any strength or play with a sense of urgency. They looked like they were in mid-season form. They were doing a no-huddle, fast-paced offense and we weren’t ready for that. We didn’t play well.”

While University Lab is coming off a 3A state championship year, Monica said he thought his players would be able to handle themselves better against their opponent’s talent.

Monica said playing against such a high quality opponent should have an overall positive effect on his team.

“(University Lab) is a team that features a lot of talent that has already committed to Division I school and it shows,” Monica said. “They just made us better. We’ve got to start from the basics again and get better each week.”

Monica said teh Comets need work before the season opener in two weeks.

SCC will travel for its jamboree game 7 p.m. Friday at St. Thomas Aquinas.

West St. John at Lutcher

The West St. John Rams traveled to Lutcher Thursday for their scrimmage. In a back and forth battle, the Rams’ defense stepped up and made some plays. Coming off a nine-interception season last year, Jamal Walters snagged two interceptions from the free safety position. Two of West St. John’s four scores came off of fumbles.

“Our young guys, two of them picked up fumbles and returned them for scores,” head coach Brandon Walters said.

On offense, the Rams passing game added two more scores off of passes to Jabari Walters from Juwan Boudoin who split playing time with Jemoine Green at quarterback.

Overall, Walters said he felt his team competed well against Lutcher.

“We did pretty well,” Walters said. “We came out a little slow at first, but eventually we got everything going. Everything was tied up until the end and they got the last score.”

While Walters said he was pleased with the way his defense played, especially in picking up turnovers, the team will retool some of their play heading into next week’s jamboree.

“We saw some things we can fix,” Walters said. “It wasn’t anything major that is going to hurt us down the line, but of course we will need to fix them or they will be a problem. I didn’t see anything that was too bad. It is expected for our first scrimmage.”

WSJ will join ESJ for their jamboree game held at 7 p.m. Friday in Amite.

Riverside took on Vandebilt Catholic at home in Reserve Friday after L’OBSERVATEUR went to press. A postgame story from that game will be included in Wednesday’s edition.