Narcisse sees football in brand new way

Published 12:01 am Saturday, August 13, 2016

ST. JAMES — St. James High quarterback Lowell Narcisse spent more time watching football than playing it last year.

After tearing his ACL in his team’s May spring game, the highly-touted, much-recruited dual threat quarterback was forced to hang out on the sideline with the coaches or, occasionally, up in the press box.

While Narcisse said it was hard not being with his teammates on the field for most of last year’s extraordinary season, it wasn’t all bad. In fact, he said, it was good for him.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” said the 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, who passed for more than 5,400 yards in his first two seasons. “I got to see the game from a different view. I got a chance to watch it from back to the front, from the press box, see it from different angles. I got to be able to recognize things like pre-snaps, people trying to send different formations, being that we had a dual threat quarterback and guys wanting to spy us and how they use different variations to do that.”

He learned so much, in fact, he highly recommends it to his fellow quarterbacks (well, except for the injury part).

“If you ever get a chance to watch a game from the back to the front or from the top, do it,” he said. “You get to see the game from a whole different view.”

Now healed and “100 percent,” the LSU commitment, who is on track to graduate in December, is back where he belongs — on the field, with a new coach who brings yet another view of the game.

Robert Valdez coached West St. John High for seven seasons before leaving in 2015 for a season at Scotlandville. He returned to take over the Wildcats from Dwain Jenkins, who left St. James after three seasons to take over at his alma mater in Lutcher.

“The good thing is, this program was in good hands,” Valdez said. “Coach Jenkins did a great job in his tenure here. I’m not walking into an empty cupboard.”

Valdez and Narcisse were no strangers to one another either, but Valdez is a big, burly offensive lineman at heart, who sees the game from a whole new perspective.

“I tell Lowell all the time that, Coach Jenkins sees the game from a quarterback’s point of view,” Valdez said. “They smell good, they dress good, they’re well manicured. They’re the poster child. I look at it from the grind-me offensive line point of view. We may not smell good all the time. It’s just a different perspective of how we see the game, but we’re both successful.”

Narcisse said he certainly sees the difference between the two coaches.

“Coach Jenkins called the game for the receivers, from a skill point-of-view,” Narcisse said. “Coach Valdez, the way he calls plays, he says we’re going to run what we want when we want. It’s a different philosophy.”

Both are hoping to lead the Wildcats back to the Superdome, but with a different outcome. St. James was the 2015 Class 3A state runner-up last year to arch-rival and nemesis Lutcher High.

There are some who  will say it was a fluke that St. James got there at all.

The Wildcats got to skip playing their semifinal game after their would-be opponent, Amite, was removed from the bracket following a fight between the Warriors and Bogalusa at the end of their quarterfinal game.

Without having to play the 14th week of the season, St. James went straight to the Class 3A final against Lutcher. They lost 41-14.

“We don’t talk about the state runner-up when you lose to a team by a combined score of 74-14,” Valdez said.

St. James fans suffered another blow  that day when Narcisse suffered yet another knee injury late in the game.

“It was scary at first,” Narcisse said.

“Once I got to the hospital and the adrenaline wore off, I knew was going to be all right. It was just a bone bruise.”

It also provided one of the most memorable moments of 2015 as every member of the Lutcher team and coaching staff found Narcisse to wish him well.

“It felt great knowing that the community supported me and always wanted my best interests,” Narcisse said.

Valdez said he is ready to help his new team put last year behind them.

“Everybody points the finger at winning the state championship,” he said. “I think you can measure success without winning the state championship. I believe we have something to prove. We have to validate the status of our program.

“The only place for that trophy is in the trophy case.”