Rams putting faith behind sophomore quarterback Gaudia

Published 12:01 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

VACHERIE — For a sophomore, D’Andre Gaudia is pretty sure of himself.

Fall football practices were just barely legal under the LHSAA’s rules when the youngster stepped from out of the crowd of his West St. John High School teammates and said, rather boldly, “I’m the starting quarterback.”

Rams coach Brandon Walters wasn’t even ready to make such a statement at the time, insisting there was still a three-man race underway.

Gaudia was just the leader at the time.

It wasn’t until Thursday night as the Rams traveled to St. James High School to take on Donaldsonville in the Thibodaux Regional Medical Center River Parishes Jamboree that Walter finally admitted what he probably knew all along.

“Yeah, D’Andre’s the guy,” Walters said after the game.

Gaudia is the 5-foot-11, 170-pound baby of the bunch who beat out senior Elijah Borne and fellow sophomore Trenton Grows.

All three saw some playing time last year as injuries took a toll on the position.

It was Gaudia who got the start Thursday night.

“I was a little nervous at the start but I wasn’t worried about it,” he said.

“I just let the game come to me, relaxed and had fun.”

It was a rough introduction, as the youngster completed 3 of 14 passes for 46 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 28 yards as the Rams lost, 16-15.

As the starting quarterback, Gaudia took it personally.

“I think I was bad because we didn’t succeed,” he said. “We’ve got to work harder.”

Walters still has confidence in Gaudia, though.

“He has a lot of intangibles,” Walters said. “He can move around. He has a really strong arm. We’re just going to build around him and see what happens.”

Walters also said Gaudia’s youth is a plus.

“He’s still able to learn some more things,” Walters said. “Some of the older guys, you know, they get set in their ways and they get stubborn. He’s young and that’s a plus because we can teach him more.”

Despite his youth, Gaudia also has the attitude needed to be the team leader.

“That comes with the position,” Walters said. “We want the quarterback to feel like they’re the guy. You have to play the game with confidence.”

Walters said he can speak from experience on that.

“Being the father of a quarterback, well, two of them, I understand,” Walters said.

His sons Jyron and Jamal both played the position.

He also knows how vulnerable the position can be — especially after last year when starting quarterback Austin Alexander and backup Jamal Walters missed time due to injuries.

With that in mind, Walters said it’s nice to know he has a couple of backups available in needed.

“Yes indeed,” he said. “Plus, we like the guys to feel like we don’t have anything solidified so they have to keep working hard. That way we get the best out of them.”