- Feature Story
- Game Preview
- George Becnel
- September 13, 2017 - 4:21pm
There is perhaps only one thing St. James coach Robert Valdez might change about the Wildcats’ home game last week against rival Lutcher.
“The only thing I regret is that I didn’t get a chance to walk around and taste some of the football that was cooking. I saw some pastalaya, jambalaya, seafood boils and I had to stay focused on the game. I don’t know if it would exactly be coaching ethics but maybe they should have a cook off and I could be the taste tester,” Valdez said.
Otherwise, Valdez said he liked the outcome – a 13-7 triumph over the Bulldogs that moved St. James to 2-0 on the season.
“If you would have told me that this game would be a defensive slugfest, I would have been like, ‘nah, you have two high-powered offenses that can put points on the board. I always say I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty. I was more concerned with not making a mistake that ultimately would cost us. Good teams, when they are facing a team that’ playing well, they kind of just wait to monopolize on mistakes and we didn’t have any turnovers. That, in itself, is almost as good as scoring. Of course, our defense played lights out,” said Valdez.
After wins over West St. John and Lutcher, St. James, ranked No. 7 in the Class 3A poll, faces another rival when the Wildcats host E.D. White on Friday.
“This is the third-straight rival and to try and keep everybody on that high and with that level of efficiency, it’s not easy. I’ve been telling everyone as much as I can that after (last) Saturday, Lutcher was over and we have to focus on E.D. White. All the attention is on E.D. White,” Valdez said.
E.D. White, also 2-0, brings a different challenge compared to West St. John and Lutcher with its Wing-T offense.
“They are so fundamentally sound and that presents a big concern because they can sustain drives. I’m sure that’s what they are going to want to do. They will want to have long drives and keep our offense off the field,” said Valdez.
Running the E.D. White offense is quarterback Brandon Legendre. The versatile junior also is a feared return man and sees action at defensive back.
“I think their quarterback is one of the best athletes in the state,” Valdez said of Legendre.
While the Cardinal offense is Wing-T based, E.D. White also spreads things out, according to Valdez.
“They are doing a little bit more with the spread. They put him (Legendre) in the shotgun,” the St. James coach said.
If the ball isn’t in the hands of Legendre, running back Nik Shanklin is generally toting the football for the Cardinals.
A prime target for Legendre is tight end Reed Boudreaux.
“They do a good job with their tight ends. He’s one of their guys they go to in the passing game,” said Valdez.
The Cardinals return a pair of senior starting offensive linemen in Hudson Domangue and Josh Becnel.
Key returnees for E.D. White on defense include Boudreaux and Collin DeSandro and Aaron Benfield at linebacker, along with defensive back Brady Theriot. All are seniors except for Benfield, who’s a junior.
The Cardinals play an attacking 4-2-5 type of defense.
“They swarm to the ball. They are very aggressive,” Valdez said.
The Wildcats have experienced a bit of it all in their first two games. St. James had to rally for a win against West St. John while playing with a lead against Lutcher.
“The good thing about playing those two games is there was one where we had to come from behind and the other we had to sustain. The last two games, we’ve played four quarters (each) on a high level. Now, can we continue that and build on that?” said Valdez.
Controlling tempo, said Valdez, could determine the outcome of the game.
“Offensively, we have to continue to sustain drives,” the St. James coach said. “We didn’t score as much but what we did last week we had two, long-sustained drives. The last drive before we missed the field goal, we had about an 11-play drive and it came right after they had the momentum. We were able to piece that drive together and kind of take the winds out of their sails a little bit.
“We will have to do that this game. This game, we have to come out and just control the line of scrimmage and sustain drives and make sure we don’t let them do that. We can’t allow them to dictate the pace.”