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Rams taking nothing for granted in closing season at St. Martin’s

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  • Feature Story
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  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • November 01, 2017 - 7:40pm

File photosThe West St. John Rams can close out District 8-1A play as unbeaten league champs with a win over the St. Martin's Episcopal Saints on Friday night.

West St. John may hold the No. 1 spot in the unofficial power ratings in Class 1A but the Rams are taking nothing for granted going into Friday’s regular-season finale at St. Martin’s Episcopal in Metairie.

“We just have to do our part and continue to win and hopefully we will get the No. 1 seed as we would like,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.

The Rams go into Friday’s game ranked No. 8 in Class 1A with a 7-2 record, 4-0 in District 8-1A play and can wrap up the league title with a victory. St. Martin’s enters the game 3-6 overall and 1-3 in district.

“We will treat it as a great opportunity to get some good work. It’s a district game and our first time seeing them since I’ve been here. We will take it with the same mindset to come out and execute and take care of business and we will go from there and see how the game goes,” said Walters.

St. Martin’s is in the midst of an unusual situation. The school went through two coaches before eventually settling on John McDonell for this season, with Frank Gendusa set to take over in 2018.

“Having been an interim guy myself, I know what it feels like to work on the bubble,” said Valdez, who held the title of interim coach at West St. John for two years before being named permanent coach prior to the start of the 2017 season.

Although the Saints like to spread opponents out a bit, St. Martin’s also uses multiple formations and plays with a tight end set, according to Walters.

One player the Saints try to get the ball to is Will Leopold. The St. Martin’s running back has rushed for 883 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

Ethan Everitt is the quarterback for the Saints. Caleb Laird, when not playing receiver, has seen action at quarterback as well.

The team’s top receiving threat is John Hurley. The senior receiver has hauled in 33 passes for 524 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

A small roster means many of the Saints have to play on offense, defense and special teams.

The Saints run a traditional 4-3 defense.

“They like to send a little pressure with the linebackers. They will stay up in a two-shell in coverage,” Walters said.

West St. John has been dominant since starting district play, usually putting opponents away early. Walters said he would like to see that formula continue Friday so younger Rams can continue to get in playing time.

“Initially, we will put our starters out there and see them execute what we are doing. Beyond that, I want to get our younger kids in and get them some more valuable work. We’ve been fortunate the past couple of games to be able to put some other kids in and get a look at them and rest some or our older guys,” the West St. John coach 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.