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Rams hoping taste of things to come sweet for WSJ in 2016

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  • George Becnel
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  • August 03, 2016 - 11:59am

File photosDespite an overall losing record, the West St. John Rams of first-year coach Brandon Walters reached the quarterfinals of the Class 2A playoffs in 2015.

The West St. John Rams are hoping the taste of things to come will be much sweeter in 2016 than a year ago.

“We thought we could make some noise in 2A and be effective with the move but I think coming back this year, we really have a sour taste in our mouth and get back on the side of where West St. John is used to being,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.

A year ago, the Rams elected to play up to Class 2A. Featuring a young squad and Walters in his first year as head coach, the going proved to be tough in District 12-2A that included the likes of Riverside Academy, St. Charles Catholic and Newman.

Against last year’s slate, the Rams got off to a 2-0 start, opening with a win over rival St. James followed by a victory over Donaldsonville.

This year’s game against St. James will be on the road. Not that the rivalry needs any more hype, the game features the return of former West St. John coach Robert Valdez, who will now be on the sidelines as coach of the Wildcats.

The Rams will be home against a revenge-minded Donaldsonville that suffered a rare loss to WSJ a year ago.

“They lost a few people from last year but they always will be right there. Last year was our first time beating them so I’m sure they will come in ready to work and get some payback and challenge us as they always have,” said Walters.

The bad taste in the mouths for the Rams a year ago began in Week 3. Being unable to hold onto early leads against the likes of Southern Lab, Kentwood and Woodlawn of Baton Rouge, West St. John went on to lose five-consecutive games on its way to a 3-7 finish to the regular season.

“A play here and a play there and it got away from us and they ended up winning in the last minutes of the game,” said Walters of the Woodlawn game, which also could have applied to the losses to Southern Lab and Kentwood.

This year, the Rams get Kentwood and Woodlawn both at home.

West St. John opens district play Week 6 at home against Country Day before playing at Riverside. The Rams lost to both teams a year ago as part of their five-game midseason losing skid.

The Rams then host Sophie B. Wright; a team WSJ defeated 42-28 a year ago.

West St. John closes out the regular season with St. Charles Catholic and Newman. The Rams visit the Comets in Week 9 before hosting the Greenies.

“It was tough last year being the new guys but we have a lot of kids returning on both sides of the ball. Both our offensive and defensive lines are returning and we have kids at the skilled positions,” said Walters.

Despite the 3-7 regular-season mark of a year ago, the Rams made their usual deep run in the Class 2A playoffs. After holding off Ferriday in the opening round, West St. John upset top-seeded Many 34-30 before being eliminated by Mangham 36-34.

“I always feel like we can win,” Walters said. “Our goal is win the district and go deep into the playoffs and try to make a run at the Dome. That won’t change at West St. John. I feel we have the guys that can do it and we will fight for it.”

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.