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Pair of changes greet Rams with start of spring football practice

  • Tags:
  • Spring Practice
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • April 27, 2017 - 9:19pm

West St. John linemen go through their paces on the opening day of spring football practice for the Rams on Thursday afternoon.

A couple of things were different during West St. John’s opening day of spring football practice Thursday afternoon.

“I’m excited to be back here with (the Rams players) with the ‘smell of the turf,’” said West St. John coach Brandon Walters.

In past years, the start of spring allowed the Rams to “smell the grass.” During spring practice last season, the team’s field was being prepared for the installation of artificial turf.

The other change was in the form of Walters’ title. He operated his first two years with the title of “interim” head coach. The tag was removed following the 2016 season.

“The work hasn’t changed,” Walters smiled. “There’s a lot going on with testing and stuff like that within the school and still organizing what we have to do as far as getting everybody prepared to do what we need to do. The workload hasn’t changed. If anything, it feels like it’s increasing even more and I always put a lot more on myself and demand more of myself and kind of transfer it to the guys.”

The Rams have a mix of experienced players and newcomers.

“We have a lot of veteran guys in key positions with the offensive and defensive lines and in our secondary,” Walters explained. “With the linebackers who can play, we are pretty solid on defense. We will have to put some people in certain places. It was a big loss with Jamal (Walters) being the field general at free safety but most of the guys on the defensive side have played.

“We have the whole entire offensive line returning. We had one senior to leave, but the guy behind him played so much, it’s like having a seven- or eight-man rotation with those guys.”

One youthful area in spring is at quarterback. D’Andre Gaudia saw some action at the position last year as a freshman, subbing for an injured Austin Alexander. Gaudia is out with a thumb injury. That means more practice time for Alyjah Borne, who played mostly defensive back for the Rams a year ago, plus freshman Trenton Grow. Grow has been a member of the West St. John basketball team.

“He’s a heck of an athlete,” Walters said of Grow. “I had to negotiate with him to get him out here because he’s a basketball head but I told him ‘you will love it.’”

The Rams return to the practice field on Monday before going full tilt starting next week.

“The guys have been running so you definitely should be in running shape. The physicality is going to come,” said Walters.

West St. John will conclude practice drills when the Rams host McMain in a Spring Game at 6 p.m. on May 12.

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.