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Rams face more-competitive Bonnabel team in rare home game

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  • George Becnel
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  • September 11, 2018 - 6:46pm

File photosBrandon Walters and his West St. John squad make the first of only two regular-season appearances at home when the Rams host Bonnabel on Friday night.

The circumstances may have been different but the results we the same for West St. John last Friday.

For the second year in a row, the Rams bounced back from a season-opening loss to rival St. James with a victory over South Plaquemines. A year ago, WSJ suffered a heartbreaking 36-33 loss after leading 33-15 with eight minutes left in the game. A week ago, the Rams were drubbed by St. James 43-0.

“I think we needed some positivity and some things to go well for us,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said. “The game against South Plaquemines, we had some positives. We still have a hell of a lot to do as far as execution and making sure we are consistent in what we are trying to do. We did see many bright spots and our kids did play a lot better with a lot more intensity, passion and excitement.”

Although West St. John’s performance improved, fans have not yet seen the best of the Rams, according to Walters.

“We still have a lot of guys out. We’ve caught a little flu bug that has been going around. We have a few guys with little nagging injuries and stuff like that. We haven’t been full throttle, yet. That’s not to make any excuses but it does take its toll on you. We have key people in certain positions and when they are out, you have to kind of piecemeal some things. Some of these guys play on offense and defense, so we are filling in holes with younger kids that have no experience,” the West St. John coach said.

The Rams look to make it two-in-a-row when they host Bonnabel on Friday. It is one of only two regular-season home games for West St. John.

A year ago, West St. John defeated the Bruins 35-12 and Nico Roy and Wantrell Williams each topped 100 yards rushing.

“We will try to run the ball again. That’s what we do. They will try to stop us and load the box as many teams have done. We just have to be prepared for it and make sure we get hats on hats and still do what we do,” Walters said.

Bonnabel was 0-11 a year ago. First-year coach Brett Bonnaffons has the Bruins playing much more competitive football, opening the 2018 season with a 52-28 win over Lusher before losing 48-27 last week to Country Day.

“They are well-coached,” Walters said. “You can tell watching the guys play that they are doing the little things the right way with the receivers and the way they are coming off the ball and their route running and stuff like that. Just the scheme of things the coaches put together and things they are trying to do is definitely different from last year. You can see that the kids are buying into the new system and they are running it pretty well.”

The Bruins continue to run a spread offense, with quarterback Torrence Bardell directing the attack.

“They have some athletes over there. They get the ball to them. The quarterback makes it go. He’s a very shifty guy and very elusive. He likes to scramble and get out of the pocket. We’ve seen that for the last three or four games. Once again, we have to be ready to chase somebody,” Walters said.

Other top offensive players include running back Deaune Nicholas and receiver Kevin Allen.

“They have some speedy guys in that offense. They show you a lot of formations and throw a lot of stuff at you – empty (backfield), three-by-one, and double. You see the whole gambit,” Walters said.

Bonnabel’s defense is based out of an odd-man front.

“They are kind of going to load the box a little bit. They do play a lot of coverages. It looks kind of like a dime, so to speak, but it may just because Lusher throws the ball and Country Day is going to throw throw the ball. I think that was their adjustment to who they were playing,” said Walters.

The Bruins, Walters said, likely will give the Rams a different look defensively.

“We have to account for their adjustments. We have to account for what we’ve seen versus other teams with similar schemes. If they are a three-man front and they like to play coverage behind it, we will assume they will bring a lot of pressure and bring some guys into the box based on some of the formations that we have and they will bring more in there for us to block. That’s the adjustment we think we are going to see,” Walters explained.

Leading the Bonnabel defense is nose guard Malik Lucas.

“He’s a man,” Walters said. “He anchors that front line and he’s very disruptive. He crosses the line of scrimmage and plays really well. I love his toughness. I like to see him play. We definitely have to get him blocked. He’s right there over the ball and he definitely needs to be accounted for.”

Something else the Rams would like to account for a good showing in front their fans in a rare home game this season.

“This is our one shot of two,” Walters said. “We don’t play at home again until Week 10. We have to make sure we have a really good showing. It’s Family Night this week and Week 10, it will be Homecoming and Senior Night all in one. It will be pretty interesting, but we will have the guys ready to go this week.”

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.