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Rams anxious once again to get back on field for spring practice

  • Tags:
  • Spring Practice
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • May 06, 2013 - 8:52am

Photo By: John DoeWest St. John quarterback Austin Howard rolls out during a drill at Monday's first spring practice session for the Rams.

The sun was shining, the sky was clear, the temperature was mild and there was a cool breeze. Conditions were about perfect as the West St. John Rams opened spring practice Monday afternoon.

“The light bill has been paid, so the air conditioner is on,” Rams coach Robert Valdez said. “There is a good breeze and it feels like we are somewhere up north.

“We are always anticipating the next time we can get back on the field, especially losing by a point in the state semifinals. We really just couldn’t wait to get back on the field and playing again.”

About the only thing has hasn’t been perfect for West St. John has been the lack of the ultimate award in the trophy case. After falling in the Class 1A finals in 2011, the Rams were vocal about their motivation to get back to the finals. West St. John fell short of that goal, losing 36-35 at Haynesville in the 2012 semifinals.

“Every year we come up with a new motto. Our motto this year is ‘Don’t tell them, show them.’ We are not really going to talk about it. We are going to come out here and work. If it happens, it’s going to happen but we will not talk about it. We will show them with our play,” said Valdez.

The nature of high school football is that on a yearly basis, some players move on, others return, and still more are asked to step up. The Rams are fortunate, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, with quarterback Austin Howard and running back Jeremy Jackson returning for their final season.

Jackson and the since-departed Kylum Favorite formed one of the best running back duos in the state. With Favorite gone, does that mean Jackson will have to carry the rushing load for the Rams in 2013?

“In this fast-style system we have on offense, you want to get as many kids involved as possible. We are expecting Jeremy to carry the load but we have a couple of young kids. We have Lamore Boudoin and a couple of younger kids that will come up and its wide open. We look for playmakers. Playmakers play. We like to spread the wealth around,” Valdez said.

The Rams feature a quick-paced spread offense but have been quite balanced on offense, actually running the ball a bit more than 50 percent of the time.

“It helps Austin,” Valdez said of the offensive balance. “People have to focus on stopping the run and therefore he gets those high-percentage passes has been the staple of our offense.”

The Rams were off and running with their offense on the first day of spring practice – a carryover from having a number of key offensive players returning.

“We don’t have to worry about installing too many new things. We just have to continue what we’ve been doing. I’m pleased with the work ethic and tempo we have on Day One,” Valdez said.

The Rams are not quite so experienced on defense, but the Rams’ coach he likes what he has seen so far on that side of the ball.

“Defensively, we have some speed. We have some young kids and not as deep but we have tremendous athleticism,” Valdez said.

Several goals are on the agenda for the Rams this spring, according to their coach.

“I want to be able to identify some people we will have defensively. We have to stop (opponents) from scoring. I want to be able to find another running back. Along the line of scrimmage, on both the offensive and defensive line, we have to get better. We have to be able to dominate. That’s our three main goals,” Valdez said.

The Rams will conclude spring drills May 18 with a three-way scrimmage involving Class 5A programs Scotlandville and Bonnabel at Bonnabel.

“I like going against those guys. It gives us a good measuring stick of where we need to be. If we can compete with those guys and have some success with those guys, we should be able to do that when we get to district,” Valdez said.

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.