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Playing on the road nothing new for defending champion Rams

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 21, 2018 - 6:52am

File photoBrandon Walters' West St. John squad is more than road tested, having played seven of nine regular-season games from home in 2018.

People in Logansport may want to beware of West St. John the moment the Rams step off the bus for Friday night’s Class 1A quarterfinal game.

“We will play in a hostile environment. We like to say we are down by 14 when we get off the bus. We have to get out swinging and don’t ask any names and start fighting as soon as we get off. That’s the mentality we want to have,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.

In short order, West St. John and Logansport have become intense playoff rivals.

A year ago, Logansport was the defending state champions after going unbeaten in 2016 and were looking to repeat in 2017. Going into the Class 1A semifinals at West St. John undefeated, Logansport lost 34-18 and the Rams went on to win a state championship of their own.

Now, it is West St. John, 8-3 and the No. 5 seed, going into a playoff encounter as the defending state champs and No. 4 Logansport is undefeated again at 11-0.

“I won’t say it’s a friendly bond between the two schools,” said Walters. “Our guys are motivated to get out there and play hard. They didn’t even send a film until (Monday) morning. We definitely know what type of environment we are going into. We know what to expect from their kids, from the staff, and we will just have our guys ready to play.

“We have to play like this is the state championship. We have to play like his if for all the marbles and that each week is for all the marbles. We look at this is your last game unless you earn the right to play next week.”

The Rams face a long journey to north Louisiana for Friday’s game, but playing on the road is nothing new for West St. John. Seven of the Rams’ nine regular-season games were away from Edgard.

“Honestly, I’ve said that it’s actually easier for me to be on the road,” said Walters. “We are used to the routine. Our guys are prepared for it. We are fortunate enough through our school system and their support behind us so we are able to travel different places in style. Our kids are comfortable and they know our routine. We don’t change anything and our standard has been in place for years.”

It’s all part of what has become a Thanksgiving week holiday tradition for the Rams.

“We look forward to practicing on Thanksgiving,” Walters said. “We don’t take that day off, either. That’s part of our routine. That’s what we look forward to.”

The Rams have other motivation beyond still playing Thanksgiving week.

“They (Logansport) are undefeated and we’d like to be the team that give people their first. They have boasted about having only one loss in the last three years. We’d like to be the team they say they lost that one game to. We will try to go up there and give them another one,” said Walters.

Logansport operates mainly out of the spread on offense.

“They are predominately a spread team and they get into some power sets where they try to pound you a little bit but they are more of a spread. They have a quarterback now that they feel they can utilize to throw the ball and they have a back back there that makes it kind of go a little easier for them,” said Walters.

The quarterback is Landon Moon.

“He can spin the ball. He has a real good strong arm. He can get the ball out there to his receivers. He also likes to take off and run with it a little bit. We have to be prepared for the run game and RPOs (run-pass option) and the stuff that comes with that type of offense,” said Walters.

Moon is coming off a second-round playoff game in which he was 10 of 10 passing for 248 yards. He fired a touchdown pass of 77 yards to Madrid Johnson and a pair of 25-yard scoring tosses to Patrick Mims and xx Darden.

Moon fired the touchdown passes early and Logansport then gave the ball to Tresmin Brown, rushed for three touchdowns in the 48-0 win over Gueydan

“He’s a go-to guy in the backfield. He runs really well. He can hit it and he has a huge line that can clear the way for him,” Walters said of Brown.

Logansport’s final touchdown against Gueydan came on a 13-yard fumble return by defensive leader Devin Gabriel, who also had a game-high xx tackles in the game.

“He’s the guy on the defense,” Walters said of Gabriel. “He held it down for them last year and he had a lot of big hits and runs to the ball. We definitely have to account for him on offense and know where he is when we’re running what we’re running. He’s the anchor of their defense. He plays the game like a linebacker should. I’ve very impressed with him.”

Another top linebacker for Logansport is Lacadrian Gant.

“He reads a lot better than Devin Gabriel does. He flies to the ball a lot better. He’s a shorter, smaller kid and he can kind of beats those blocks. He does that really well,” said Walters.

Johnathon Amox is an edge rusher for Logansport.

“He’s plays that defensive end kind of line that stand-up outside guy, more of less like a linebacker in a 50 look but in a 3-4, he will bounce around from there to a three-tech or four tech and he moves around also,” Walters said.

Defensive back Key’savalyn Barnes had two interceptions in win over Gueydan.

So, what would make the long trip back to Edgard the day after Thanksgiving seem so much shorter?

“We have to go out there and not be intimidated by the atmosphere, about the conditions. We have to be ready for anything that arises as far as a situation and how we handle that and how we handle adversity. We expect something. There shouldn’t be any surprises. We just want to get out there and play football and really get after them the way we do and it think we should be on top at the end,” said Walters.

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.