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St. James wins parish battle with 13-7 triumph over Lutcher

  • Tags:
  • Game Recap
  • By:
  • Eric Richey
  • Posted:
  • September 09, 2017 - 1:52am

Robert Valdez (L) and Dwain Jenkins (R) shake hands following the 13-7 win by St. James.

Sparked by a special teams touchdown, some clutch execution on offense, and a standout performance on defense, St. James defeated rival Lutcher 13-7 in front of a standing room only crowd at Wildcat Stadium.

The latest thriller came on the heels of the Wildcats come-from-behind victory last Friday against West St. John when they trailed the Rams 27-6 only to comeback and win 36-33.

"Two weeks of this and I'm going to have to get extra insurance," said St. James coach Robert Valdez. "This is a great win for our program. This is a great win for our community, a great win for our fans. Our kids have worked hard all summer and this was a hard fought game between two very good ball clubs that are very well coached."

St. James scored first on a blocked field goal attempt which was scooped up by Glen Brown who returned it 70 yards down the far sideline for the touchdown. Alec Mahler's extra point attempt was good and St. James led 7-0 with 1:34 left in the first quarter.

It was the latest in a series of eventful plays for the Bulldogs on field goal attempts. Last week kicker Alec Bland scored a touchdown on a blocked field goal attempt, and two weeks ago in jamboree action the Bulldogs defeated Destrehan on Bland's last-second field goal.

"I really don't know what to say anymore now because it seems like every play that you can think of weird, strange, or indifferent it's kind of gone against us so far early in the season," said Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins. "Hopefully that luck will turn around for us. I think ever since we made that kick at Destrehan on special teams we've found ways to make some mistakes we just got to correct those mistakes. I think we've got a great field goal kicker and he's going to have to make some kicks for us. We've got to do a better job of protecting it and making sure they don't get blocked. That's too many kick scores in a two week span to bounce back from."

Solid defense by both teams was the theme of the second quarter until the Wildcats scored again just before the half. Demarcus Williams who played a solid game leading the Wildcats offense, set up his own 1-yard touchdown run with a pair of big gains on the ground. The conversion attempt was no good and St. James took a 13-0 lead to the half.

In the second half it was Lutcher who struck first when Daevon Adams went off the right side for a four-yard touchdown. Alec Bland's extra point attempt was good and the Bulldogs had cut the St. James lead to 13-7 with 6:10 left in the 3rd quarter.

"We got that ball back we had all the momentum in the world and that's what we talked about as being one of the biggest issues that we were going to have. We got a penalty on that drive, a blind side block and it kind of pushed us back. We fought our way back to get close, but we missed an assignment on one play and we didn't get the first down and I said at that point, that could have been a turning point in the game.

The Wildcats played shutdown defense and ball control offense in the fourth quarter. St. James tried to put the game away in the closing seconds, but a short field goal attempt was pushed wide right giving Lutcher one last hope starting at the St. James 20 with less than 19 seconds remaining in the game and no timeouts.

A quick Kolby Bourgeois to Rondell Mealey pass netted 15 yards, but a second pass completion was contained and the celebration was on.

This is what St James is all about, this is what River Parish Football is all about," said Valdez. "I'm just very excited for my kids and my community. We have to keep getting better but this is a god one, it feels good."

On the flip side, Jenkins felt emotions of a different kind after falling to the team he coached for three seasons taking them to the Quarterfinals in every season he was the head coach at St. James including the 3A State Championship game in his final season with the Wildcats.

"It's tough," said Jenkins. "You know so many of theses kids. I think the world of Demarcus Williams and that's obviously the first kid I went grab. We've got a special relationship. I believed in him when he was a 13-year-old freshman that he could get (St James) to a State Championship and he was able to do that. We really just got to find a way to make some plays when it matters the most. We got guys that we're putting positions to make plays we just got to do a better job when those opportunities are there."

Lutcher falls to 0-2 and will look to crack the win column next week when they host Marksville.

St. James is off to its second consecutive 2-0 start under Valdez, and will play a third consecutive rivalry game next week when they host E.D. White.

Eric Richey | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Eric Richey is an Emmy award-winning sports anchor/reporter who has been covering high school football for 25 years.