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St.James looking to keep edge while hosting winless Haynes

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  • George Becnel
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  • October 11, 2017 - 6:10pm

File photosSt. James coach Robert Valdez said he hopes his squad can avoid the distractions associated with Homecoming when the Wildcats take on Haynes on Friday night.

Following a 26-22 triumph over Donaldsonville last Friday, the St. James Wildcats pulled off a sweep of four rivals.

All of the wins came in dramatic fashion but a runaway or two would have been just fine for Wildcats coach Robert Valdez.

“These games have been real exciting for fans to watch. I would like for them to not be as much fun but I will take it,” the St. James coach said.

The eighth-ranked Wildcats, 5-1 overall, including 1-0 in District 10-3A, take on a winless Haynes team on Friday. More than taking on a team that has yet to win a game, a major concern for Valdez is the fact it’s Homecoming Week at St. James.

“Whenever you have Homecoming, you have distractions,” Valdez said. “I don’t really concern myself with the record or not because you have to respect all of your opponents. Those kids will be motivated to come in here and try to have a good game and all that.

“We are preparing like a normal week. We want to make sure we keep on that edge. We really don’t have a lot of room for error or take anybody lightly. We are still trying to put ourselves into make a deep (playoff) run.”

The Yellow Jackets, who are coming off a 64-0 loss to De La Salle, feature a pro-style offense.

“They run inside and outside zone and stretch plays,” Valdez explained. “They like to run play-action and hit the tight ends. They try to make you make mistakes with coverages, especially with bootlegs and their misdirections.

“They don’t have the top-tier guys we have seen recently but they have a real solid scheme offensively.”

Haynes’ quarterback is sophomore Zachary Bott.

“He’s a guy that does a good job of conducting their offense in handling the ball off and carrying out fakes and spreading the field out. We have to be able to disrupt their blocking schemes,” Valdez said.

The Yellow Jackets utilize two tight ends in senior Darnell Johnson and sophomore Joshua Christoffersen, a returning starter.

“They used them in the blocking scheme on stretch plays and try to get you running and pins your ears back on naked bootlegs or play-action passes. They are very important in their attack,” said Valdez.

The running backs include Gave Burns and Paul Longo Jr., the coach’s son.

“The running backs are patient runners and they look for lanes,” Valdez said. “They do the inside zone out outside stretch so they do a good job with the play-fakes. I’m really impressed with the little things they do well. They run the short and intermediate routes almost like a West Coast offense.”

The Yellow Jackets play mostly a five-man front on defense.

“They mostly try to play gap control and keep everything in front of them. They play cover-3 and cover-2. Their defensive line is not very big but they are tenacious,” Valdez said.

Longo, Burns and Johnson also play on the defensive side of the football for Haynes.

Despite the fact Haynes is winless Valdez said he doesn’t see the contest as a ‘trap’ game.

“I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe you alter or change anything you are doing this week in practice. You continue with business as usual. You need to carry out your business as usual and respect your opponent because you never know what can happen. You have to be constantly prepared,” the St. James 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.