Week 1 brings stiff competition: ESJ, WSJ coaches to face first test

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

LAPLACE — Each of St. John the Baptist Parish’s public high schools will be debuting new coaches this weekend as the first week of the regular football season begins.

West St. John vs. St. James

For West St. John’s Brandon Walters, his first game as a head coach will be 7 p.m. Friday in Edgard against a tough opponent in the St. James Wildcats.

St. James is coming off of a 30-0 jamboree win over Donaldsonville in which the Wildcats rolled up 260 yards on offense and held their opponent to minus two yards on defense. That is without All-State quarterback junior Lowell Narcisse, who was lost for the year with a torn ACL in the Wildcats’ spring game.

Narcisse is replaced by sophomore DeMarcus Williams who saw time at wide receiver and defensive back last year before switching to quarterback.

“He can do pretty much similar to the same things we have seen in (Narcisse),” Walters said. “That is definitely something we are going to have to be aware of and make sure we wrap him up and get ahold of him real well. We know and understand he is a threat. He can be a weapon for them. He is a very elusive, very athletic kid.”

In addition to Williams on offense, the Wildcats have inserted All-State linebacker Aquindas Steib at tailback. Steib ran for one touchdown in the Wildcats’ jamboree game and was a disruptive force in stopping the run game on defense.

“We are going to identify (Steib), see where he is on the field, but we are not going to let that dictate what we do,” Walters said. “We are going to go ahead and still establish the run game and throw off of that.”

However, getting the running game going may be a difficult proposition. Rams senior tailback Lamore Boudoin missed the jamboree game with an ankle injury and junior tailback Austin Alexander got the bulk of the team’s carries.

Walters said they are not going to rush Boudoin back into action and feel Alexander is capable of handling the load.

“(Alexander) is a tough kid, a workaholic,” Walters said. “He is very capable of holding it down and taking the load for us.”

The offensive line, who saw a number of injuries during the jamboree, looks to return its normal starting lineup this week.

Seniors Jemoine Green and Juwan Boudion — who each had a passing touchdown in the jamboree game — will continue to split time at quarterback.

“We can run our package with both of them,” Walters said. “Even though Jemoine is more of the runner, the more elusive guy. They both can throw the ball, and we are comfortable with running everything we do with either one of them.”

Overall, Walters said if his defense gets on track he feels his team has a good chance of winning.

“We have to solidify closing them out, playing our three-and-out defense, not giving up the big play on third and long and concentrate on tackling more,” Walters said. “We are going put more of an emphasis on getting back to sound tackling and just making sure we shore up the ball.”

East St. John at Archbishop Shaw

East St. John’s matchup against Archbishop Shaw will be head coach Alden Foster’s first game atop the Wildcats program, but will mark his 204th game as a head coach over which time he has established a winning legacy with a 142-61 record, including an appearance in the 3A state championship game last year as head coach of Amite.

The East St. John Game starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at Harold “Hoss” Memtsas Stadium, located at 2200 8th St. in Harvey.

Foster said the Archbishop Shaw Eagles are a good running team led by the play of senior quarterback Matt Keller.

In last week’s jamboree, though the Eagles lost to John Ehret, senior tailback Trey Ragas put up 120 yards rushing on 15 carries and Keller added 95 yards passing.

Foster said while Archbishop Shaw is known for its running game, Shaw uses the pass game effectively as well.

“If they know you are asleep, they will hit you over the top (with a pass),” Foster said.

Overall, the Wildcats will have to work on playing tight football and eliminating mistakes. In the scrimmage versus Edna Karr and last week’s jamboree versus Landry-Walker the Wildcats gave up long touchdowns. On the offensive side of the ball East St. John has also had a problem with turnovers, putting up two interceptions last week.

Foster said if his team is able to correct their mistakes, the Wildcats should be able to take on all comers.

“When we play sound football and don’t give up the big plays — we play well defensively and offensively,” Foster said. “We just need to eliminate the turnovers in the red-zone and on various drives. We are killing ourselves right now on mental mistakes.”

In the preseason East St. John was able to recover after giving up early touchdowns and played tight defense on the back end of the contests, somthing they hope to do early this week.

“You’ve got to come out and control the line of scrimmage and play assignment football — be where you are supposed to be to be successful,” Foster said.

That is a tough proposition with the loss of sophomore free safety Javon Antonio, who was involved in an on-field fight last week against Landry-Walker and, along with reserve linebacker Kaylon Lipps, will have to sit out the game.

“It is going to be really tough,” Foster said.

“He is one of our better defenders. It is going to be about other people stepping up and making the plays. It is not going to be easy to replace him, but at the same time we have to do what we have to do when you put yourself in that situation.”

In the end, Foster said while the team struggled in preseason play they have time to clean up the mistakes before kickoff Saturday.

“Hopefully it all comes together this week when it really counts,” Foster said.

“The best part about it is we are still 0-0 and we’ve played some pretty good football teams.”

On offense senior Alvin Jackson has been named the stating quarterback. However, that may change. The team will get a decision Thursday concerning the eligibility of transfer quarterback Marquise Darensbourg. Darensbourg led Destrehan to a 14-0 record to start last year and a place in the 5A state championship game before transferring to East St. John this spring. He was ruled ineligible in July after the Louisiana High School Athletics Association found his move was motivated by athletics.

Thursday’s appeals ruling will either reinstate Darensbourg to the team or close the door on his 2015 season.