- Feature Story
- Game Preview
- George Becnel
- September 27, 2017 - 12:51pm
St. James’ winning formula continues to work even on the road.
After opening the season with three-straight wins, the Wildcats went up to Monroe last Friday and blanked Wossman 19-0 to move to 4-0 on the season.
“I’m very excited with the way our defense is playing. It’s a great formula any time in the season to play great defense and have solid special teams,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 7 in the Class 3A poll, are back at home Friday night against St. Amant, another team off to a 4-0 start.
“When I made the schedule, I wanted to make sure we played a little bit of a better quality opponent to make us better. We are undefeated and they are undefeated and it’s the best team we have played so far, given the record,” said Valdez.
Actually, the Gators’ record can be misleading. St. Amant is unbeaten but the four teams the Gators have beaten are a combined 3-13. One of the wins was a 40-20 victory last week over Lutcher in which the Gators scored on their first six possessions.
Along with being big on both sides of the, the Class5A Gators are also deep. K.J. Frankin is the only player who goes both ways for St. Amant.
The Gators run a spread offense.
“They will line up in power formations and run it down your throat. They like to spread you out and create lanes for the running backs. Once you try to load up the box to stop the run, they will isolate you with the two receivers they have,” Valdez explained.
The main runner for St. Amant is Cade Nelson.
“He’s a workhorse. He’s one of those guys, watching him on film, he keeps his feet moving, he’s scrappy and he runs low to the ground,” said Valdez.
The Gators also like to get the ball to Franklin and Grant Alexander.
“K.J. Franklin is arguably the best athlete they have (on offense) and Grant Alexander is a guy they like to get the ball to a lot. He finds the zones and all that and the quarterback, basically, he conducts their offense. They are very prolific,” Valdez said.
The quarterback, Halen Miller, is coming off an 11 of 13 passing effort for 209 yards and three touchdowns against Lutcher.
St. Amant is based out of a three-man front but will move linebacker Jacolby Landry to rush end for a four-man look.
“Whenever you run a three-man front, those three guys can hold their own,” Valdez said. “Johnny Johnson is probably the better of the three defensive linemen. He plays with a lot of intensity. His motor is full speed. He does a good job of holding his side of the field and creating pressure. The big nose guard, Jacob Furlow, is pretty much a plugger. He’s a strong kid that just tries to stalemate you. Brandon Bell compliments them very well.
“Once you get past the defensive line, Jacolby Landry may be their best athlete. He plays outside linebacker and rush end type. He’s probably their best athlete on the field, offense or defense. He covers a lot of space.”
Playing a team like St. Amant, Valdez said, can only help the Wildcats to improve.
“It will make us better and down the road. We will need to top a team with the speed and size that they have. That will prepare us.”