- Feature Story
- Game Preview
- George Becnel
- November 02, 2016 - 10:01am
It’s been a year in the making. One team is unbeaten through nine games and ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. The other has one loss and is ranked No. 2.
So, all eyes will be on the De La Salle at Lutcher matchup on Friday night.
“It’s definitely a game that’s going to get a lot of attention,” said Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins. “You go through the whole season basically with two teams that were No. 1 and No. 2 all year in 3A all year long. De La Salle has been just as dominant as they were all of last year again this year. It was up until this point last year they had dominated everyone they had played and Lutcher was able to beat them. I guess they kind of never really recovered because they lost their first playoff game against Teurlings and that was it.”
While De La Salle lost its playoff opener a year ago, Lutcher went on to win a final state championship for then-coach Tim Detillier.
Jenkins, whose St. James Wildcats lost to Lutcher in last year’s Class 3A final, said revenge is likely on the minds of the Cavaliers.
“That team is back and they are playing with purpose,” Jenkins said. “They definitely set their goals on winning a district championship when you read the things their kids have talked about. The coaches have talked that this is something they had circled since last year. They feel like that’s just the next step in their program to get their program to where they want to be.”
For all the hype, Friday’s game is merely a regular-season game. Neither team’s season will be over, regardless of outcome.
“The biggest message that we kind of have going into this whole thing is not focusing on the district championship or No. 1 versus No. 2, but for us, the game is extremely important because it is the next step in our goal,” Jenkins said. “The playoff seeding is going to be greatly affected by this game and you definitely want to be in the top four. Preferably, we would like to be 1 or 2. If we win, we probably could be No. 2. I think West Feliciana already has kind of locked up the No. 1 spot (in the non-select bracket). The No. 2 seed gets the home field in the semifinals, which would be huge for us to be able to play for us to be able to accomplish our goal, which is a state championship.
“Our focus has to be on taking that next step of reaching our goal and understanding that win, lose or draw on Friday night against De La Salle, our most important game is November 11 (to open the playoffs).”
For all of the focus on De La Salle’s explosive skilled position players, the Cavaliers have been dominant all year along the line of scrimmage.
“A lot of times people get caught up in looking at the skilled guys whenever you look at football games but I think what makes De La Salle as dominant as they – as good as their skilled guys are – is how good they are on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Jenkins said.
“On offense, Jeremiah James is one of the best offensive linemen we will see,” the Lutcher coach continued. “He’s dominant and he’s a kid that probably if he was an inch or two taller would be a big-time recruit. He’s getting recruited by most of the state schools. He definitely is the leader of their front.”
The offensive line provides protection for quarterback Julien Gums.
“He’s big. He’s a power runner. He’s a guy who can run downhill on you. He’s the guy that will go and get the tough yards for them but he also has the ability to break plays. You have to be sure you tackle him and that’s no easy task at 6-1, 215 pounds,” said Jenkins.
Gums has a pair of options when it comes to handing the ball off.
“Their two running backs, Ricco Wheat and Jab White, are extremely explosive and make big plays. They are fast and can get to the edge,” Jenkins explained.
The Cavalier also feature the athletic Quincy Cage, who lines up just about everywhere on offense.
“He plays receiver. He’s a guy they like to get the ball to on screens and things like that. He’s also a guy that can line up in the backfield at running back and do some things there,” said Jenkins.
Eddie Minor is another go-to guy at receiver for the Cavaliers.
As dominant as the De La Salle offensive line is, it can be even more formidable when the Cavaliers play linemen Kendall Baker and Sean Monconduit at the H-back position.
“They do a good job of kicking out guys and really dominating the line of scrimmage,” said Jenkins.
The Cavaliers have been just as dominant along the defensive front.
“They have two defensive tackles that play inside, Danquan Edwards and Jamiran James, who’s the brother of the guard on offense,” Jenkins said. “Both of those kids are 6-1, 265 pounds and do a great job. They have controlled the line of scrimmage and really have stopped people from running the ball almost completely all year long.
“When you go to the next level, they are probably as explosive as you can be with Josh Paul – the Arkansas commit - Royce LaFrance and Robert Lestrick. They do an excellent job of being able to run to the football and make tackles. When you have two guys like Edwards and James on the inside that can eat up blocks, those guys do a great job.”
The top defender in the secondary, according to Jenkins, is Myles Ward.
With so much talent, particularly along the line, the Cavaliers don’t’ have to do anything fancy to be effective on defense, Jenkins said.
“Because they are so good up front, they show a lot of base 4-3 looks” said Jenkins. “They really play sound, fundamental football. They don’t have to be real exotic with blitzes or stunts because they have dominant defensive tackles. Their defensive ends do a good job in one-one-one situations, which they get all the time. They are just so dominant up front; their linebackers make plays all over the field.”
With skilled position players galore on for both teams, coupled with stout defenses, possessions could be at a premium Friday night, according to Jenkins.
“You would hope that we can show up and be able to slow them down offensively and not allow them to run the ball with quite the ease they have all year long. For us, we need to be very, very efficient in what we do. We think our offensive skilled guys are as good as anybody anywhere and we have to come out play very well, be balanced, and be able to spread the ball around,” the Lutcher coach said.