- Season In Review
- George Becnel
- January 27, 2015 - 12:38pm
Few teams generated season-opener excitement in 2014 like the St. James Wildcats.
Coming off a Class 2A quarterfinal appearance in 2013 under first-year coach Dwain Jenkins, put the bad taste of back-to-back winning seasons behind them. Along with the excitement that came with the playoff run a year earlier, all eyes were on St. James’ season opener against West St. John.
Taking on rival West St. John to open the season always has caused a lot of buzz, but the enthusiasm was heightened by the fact St. James would be playing its first game at the new stadium of the school’s future site in Vacherie. Additionally, the game was played on a Thursday night, giving the game a day’s head start on the competition in contest that was being broadcast as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s game of the week.
With all those factors in mind, perhaps the Wildcats were feeling the pressure early in the game, falling behind 29-0 at halftime.
The Wildcats roared back from their halftime deficit by scoring 30 points in the third quarter. West St. John’s Anfernee Lamar followed with a 28-yard field goal effort that hit the crossbar but sailed through the uprights to end St. James’ scoring onslaught to give West St. John a 32-30 lead on the Rams’ way to a 39-30 triumph.
A 63-yard connection from sophomore quarterback Lowell Narcisse to Houston Wiggins less than two minutes into the second half gave St. James its first score in the Wildcats’ new stadium. Narcisse scored on a two-point conversion run to make it 29-8.
A shanked punt on the Rams’ next possession gave the ball back to St. James at the WSJ 39. Three plays later, Narcisse raced 34 yards for a touchdown to make the score 29-16.
St. James marched 89 yards on its next drive. Narcisse found Dontaze Costly at the West St. John 10-yard line and the sophomore receiver sprinted to complete a 37-yard touchdown play to make it 29-22 at the 1:22 mark of the third quarter.
The third quarter followed the pattern of the second quarter, only with the teams reversed. Just as West St. John managed to score quickly in the first half by taking advantage of a Wildcats turnover immediate after a Rams touchdown, SJH did the same in the second half.
Bradley Borne fumbled the ensuing kickoff at his own 20-yard line following Costly’s touchdown. On the very next play, Narcisse, who ended up passing for 317 yards, scrambled before spotting Curtlan Johnson for the touchdown. Narcisse’s third two-point conversion of the game gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 30-29.
St. James’ inability to score in the red zone proved costly in a 20-14 loss to E.D. White that dropped the Wildcats to 0-2.
Despite the Wildcats’ inability to score in red zone situations, St. James only trailed 7-0 at halftime on a 58-yard touchdown run by E.D. White quarterback Ben Sposito.
Trailing 13-0, St. James got on the scoreboard on a 2-yard run by Houston Wiggins. A two-point conversion pass from Narcisse to McKenney put the Wildcats back in the game at 13-8.
The Wildcats appeared to score a go-ahead touchdown when Wiggins broke loose on a 74-yard sprint. The score was nullified by a holding penalty and St. James eventually was forced to punt from its own end zone.
Taking advantage of excellent field position following the punt, the Cardinals increased their lead to 20-8 when Darius Charles scored from 2 yards out to culminate a 36-yard drive.
A long kickoff return by Wiggins set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Narcisse to make the score 20-14 but that was as close as the Wildcats would get.
Narcisse rushed for 262 yards and four touchdowns as St. James won its first game of the season and in the Wildcats’ new stadium with a 36-17 win over Vandebilt Catholic.
Along with averaging 13.1 yards per carry, Narcisse, the Wildcats’ sophomore quartebacl also was 15 of 25 passing for 144 yards.
Leading 22-17 at halftime, St. James did all of the scoring in the second half on a 1-yard run by Narcisse and the quarterback’s two-point conversion pass to Rashaun Weber in the third quarter and a 1-yard run by Aquindas Steib with 6:03 left in the game for the 36-17 final.
The Wildcats’ momentum from the Vandebilt game didn’t carry over to the start of District 8-2A play.
St. James trailed 35-20 to open the third quarter when Riverside’s Von Julien returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown to balloon the Riverside lead to 41-20 on the Rebels’ way to a 62-32 victory. It was Julien’s second kickoff return for a touchdown in the game.
The unbeaten and third-ranked Rebels scored a total of three non-offensive touchdowns. Along with Julien’s two kickoff returns for scores, Riverside linebacker Evan Veron returned a St. James fumble 15 yards for a touchdown only three plays into the game to set the tone for the RA.
The Wildcats, who were continually able to drive on the Riverside defense, answered Julien’s return on the fourth of five touchdown hookups between the duo of Narcisse and Dontaze Costly, this one from 17 yards out to make the score 41-26.
After a 1-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Riverside’s Jordan Loving, the Rebels inserted receiver Herb McGee into the backfield to run the wildcat offense. It was the McGee show on the drive, carrying the ball six times in the seven-play drive, before eventually scoring on a 6-yard run with one second left in the third quarter to make the score 55-26.
The final two scores of the game came on a the fifth Narcisse-Costly connectio, this time from 31 yards out, and a 50-yard run by Riverside’s Brandon Sanders but it wasn’t enough for the Wildcats who dropped to 1-3 overall.
Fisher was the unlucky opponent to feel the Wildcats’ wrath coming off the loss to Riverside. Narcisse passed for 292 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 73 yards and another score as St. James evened its District 8-2A record at 1-1 while improving to 2-3 overall.
St. James led 28-6 at halftime and pulled away in the third quarter on a pair of non-offensive touchdowns on a 75-yard punt return by Mason Scott and a 34-yard fumble return by Jai Lewis.
A late rally had St. James on the verge of reaching .500 on the season in the Wildcats’ District 8-2A home game against Newman.
Trailing the entire game, St. James took possession trailing 25-22 with 6:35 left in the game and needing to march 80 yards to take the lead. That’s when Narcisse took charge. The sophomore quarterback was simply unstoppable, running the ball 10 times in a 13-play series. Averaging 6.66 yards per carry, he also was 2 of 3 passing on the drive.
His one negative play, a loss of 6 yards, left St. James with a third-and-12 situation at the Newman 15-yard line. After a 5-yard scramble, Narcisse tossed 10 yards to Johnson for a touchdown. Narcisse kept the ball on a two-point conversion, giving the Wildcats a 30-25 lead with 1:56 remaining in the game.
Facing kickoff coverage issues all year, on the Wildcats’ final kickoff of the night, St. James kicked short to Newman. A Greenies return man pitched the ball to Jay Tyler. Tyler, who has been unable to play quarterback the last four games because of an injury to his passing hand, has split his time as a receiver, defensive back and return man while healing.
Tyler returned the ball past midfield on a tackle-breaking run and a personal foul penalty against St. James on the play, advanced the ball to the Wildcats’ 29-yard line with 1:38 left in the game.
On first down, Tyler’s replacement at quarterback, Miles Lapeyre, tossed to Tyler Addison but the play was called back because of an illegal shift penalty. The sophomore quarterback was unfazed, completing his next three passes, the final going 13 yards to Elbert Thomas with 41 seconds left in the game to pull out a 31-30 victory for the Greenies.
Instead of reaching .500, the loss dropped the Wildcats to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in district.
Following the loss to Newman, St. James won its final four district games to finish the regular season 6-4, marking the first time the Wildcats ended a winning season with a winning record since 2008.
Of the final four games, only the South Plaquemines contest a week after the Newman game proved to be rather close.
A 98-yard touchdown pass from Narcisse to Costly in the final minute of the third quarter against South Plaquemines allowed St. James to turn a two-point lead into an eight-point advantage on the Wildcats’ way to 20-12 win.
St. James was clinging to a 14-12 lead when the Wildcats intercepted a South Plaquemines pass at the SJH 2-yard line.
The Wildcats won their final three games handily, downing Sophie B. Wright 56-12, Carver 47-14 and Cohen 62-0 to close the regular season 6-4 overall and 5-2 in district.
Narcisse finished with 197 yards on 26 carries with three touchdowns as St. James beat Carver 26-18 in a Class 2A first-round rematch to improve to 7-4.
With the score tied 6-6, Narcisse scored his second rushing touchdown, this time on a 47-yard run with six seconds left in the first quarter to give St. James a 12-6 lead after one quarter.
After Mason Scott returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, the Rams answered on a 2-yard touchdown by quarterback Rodney Major before Narcisse scored on a 5-yard run and a two-point conversion with 23 seconds left in the first half for a 26-12 on the Wildcats’ way to the 26-18 win.
Narcisse had another big outing, throwing for 387 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 86 yards and three additional scores in the Wildcats’ 46-8 win at Loreauville in the Class 2A regionals.
Along with Narcisse’s effort, the St. James defense held Loreauville to under 250 yards and one touchdown.
No. 9 seed St. James improved to 8-4 against eighth-seeded Loreauville as Narcisse had to make do for the second-straight week without top receiver Dontaz Costly, who had 1,008 yards and 15 touchdown catches in the regular season. Narcisse spread the ball around to eight different receivers, with Aquindas Steib also completing a four-yard pass to another receiver to bring the Wildcats’ passing total to 391 yards. St. James rushed for 177 yards to amass 568 total yards.
The Wildcats’ playoff journey ended in the Class 2A quarterfinals for the second year in a row, this time falling at home to top-seeded Many 28-14.
The score was tied 14-14 as late as the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter before Many pulled away.
Many was driving with the score tied when the Wildcats stopped the threat by picking off a Tigers pass in the end zone.
It proved to be only a momentary reprieve when the Wildcats fumbled the ball two plays later. That led to Many’s go-ahead score on a 3-yard run by James Carhee. Carhee and teammate Kentrell Maxie combined to rush for more than 200 yards in the game.
St. James got the ball back with two minutes left in the game when the Wildcats eventually turned the ball over on downs inside their own 20-yard line.
Many quarterback Xavier Dias scored on a 7-yard run in the closing moments for the 28-14 final.
The loss ended St. James’ season at 8-5.