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West St. John seeks to get over quarterfinal playoff hump

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 22, 2017 - 2:58pm

File photoBrandon Walters and his West St. John squad looks to get over the quarterfinal hump with a win Friday night over the visiting Jonesboro-Hodge Tigers.

West St. John and Jonesboro-Hodge are no strangers when it comes to meeting in the Class 1A playoffs.

Over the years, it always seemed that West St. John was the one that had to make the long road trip but for Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup in Edgard, it will be the Tigers who will be looking to their roadmap app in making the journey to south Louisiana.

“It’s fortunate we can get this game at home,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said. “It’s better for the guys to play in front of their family and friends. I’m sure a lot of people will be down here in town for the holidays. They don’t have far to go and it makes for a better game atmosphere for our kids.”

West St. John, the No. 1 seed, takes on a Jonesboro-Hodge team coming off a 48-8 victory over Elton, the No. 9 seed. Jonesboro-Hodge is the No. 8 seed.

The Tigers (9-2) like to spread the ball around.

“They have a lot of good athletes in different spots. They have good running backs and great receivers and they spread it around. They get in a lot of different formations. They get in doubles and trips and a lot of empty. They send guys in motion and send the guy the other way. There’s a lot of misdirection in that. They line up and run a lot of zone-read stuff that a spread team presents,” Walters said.

Jonesboro-Hodge quarterback Reginal Shallowhorn has thrown for 847 yards and rushed for 760.

“He likes to run it around. He’s a lefty. He’s not afraid to pull it and take off with it. I think he looks for that first,” Walters said.

While Shallowhorn may look to run first, he does have a deep corps of pair of receivers to throw to.

“He can throw the ball and they have some big, tall receivers in Caleb Hassen and Tayvionne Tate. Deiondre Hall is probably one of the best guys in their offense. He (Hall) runs really well and has good speed. They also line him up at receiver,” said Walters.

The Tigers feature a 1,000-yard rusher in Kameron Booker.

“They will put him in the slot and motion him around a lot,” Walters pointed out.

Jonesboro-Hodge utilizes an even-man front on defense.

“They run a similar defense to us – a 4-2-5 but they also play a more traditional 4-3. They play some cover-3 with the safety high. Shallowhorn also is the free safety,” said Walters.

Plugging up the middle for the Tigers are 6-foot-2, 300-pound Kelton Moss and Zachary Culver, a 6-foot-3, 40 defensive tackle.

Hall, Hassen and Tate all start on defense. Tate had a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Tigers’ win over Elton.

“They didn’t want to tackle him. He got a nice pick and cut it back across the field. I guess the guy he thought was going to tackle him missed and fell down and he just made a great play,” Walters said of Tate.

Simply put by Walters, if the Rams play West St. John football, they will win on Friday night.

“If West St. John comes to play, it doesn’t matter who we play. We are our biggest enemy and our biggest problem, at times. If we can come to play and hit on all cylinders, there’s not a team that I feel that can play with us,” the West St. John coach said.

The Rams (9-2) have been striving for years to garner the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Having done that, West St. John will be at home in next week’s semifinals with a win over Jonesboro-Hodge.

“This is the plan that has been talked about for years. I’m just happy to be the guy that it kind of worked out for. It’s making the right moves in scheduling and then going out there and executing. That’s been the main thing,” 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.