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Valdez finds silver lining coming off lopsided loss to De La Salle

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  • George Becnel
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  • October 25, 2017 - 7:31pm

File photosSt. James will try to contain Lusher running back Ari Broussard (5) to control the Lions' ball-control offense when the teams meet Friday night in New Orleans.

It was a loss by 56 points that cost St. James a spot in the Top 10 rankings and the No. 1 spot in the Class 3A power ratings but the defeat at the hands of top-ranked De La Salle last week still left Wildcats coach Robert Valdez with a few positive vibes.

“The silver lining is that we are still in the season and we can correct those mistakes, and hopefully, we can have those things fixed by the time we move forward. If those things had happened in a playoff game, we would be sitting at home even more upset. We move forward. We still have a lot to play for and the season is pretty promising,” Valdez said.

Most of the mistakes that need to be corrected as St. James (6-2 overall, 2-1 in District 10-3A) take on Lusher (3-5 overall, 0-3 in district) on Friday night in New Orleans revolve around the kicking game.

The Wildcats had three punts that were blocked for touchdowns and allowed a long punt return to set up another score in the lopsided loss to De La Salle.

In taking on Lusher, the Wildcats will face pro-style offense.

“They definitely want to play ball-control. They’re a team that wants to maintain drives than score in spurts. They have a lot of guys going both ways so they try to kind of keep fresh bodies like that,” Valdez explained.

In attempting to control the ball, the Lions generally put it in the hands of running back Ari Broussard.

“He’s a big, physical runner. We’ve seen some big, physical runners, so that will help us, especially in the coming weeks because we will hit more and more teams that will want to be prolific with the run game,” said Valdez.

The Lions have played both Arnold Little and Sam Kates at quarterback.

“Arnold Little is a little more elusive. Sam Kates is more in line with what they do in terms of shifting and motioning and trying to get you outflanked a little bit. Kates is a little bit better passer than Little,” Valdez explained.

The Lions feature five returning starters on the offensive line, including Samuel Davis, Tamir Bryant, Sydney Cazeno, Deven Johnson and Brandon Preuss.

“They have great size and good command of their scheme. They run inside zone and the stretch. They go with the play-action,” said Valdez.

Lusher plays a four-man front on defense and is led by Broussard, who also plays middle linebacker.

Jorren Butler is an outside linebacker for Lions.

“They use him like we used Shawn Preston. He’s one of those guys when you try to get to the perimeter, he will be there. We have to identify where he is at all the time,” Valdez said of Butler.

Like Broussard, others who see action on both sides of the ball include 6-foot-4, 220 pound Donald Saulney, who plays defensive end and tight end, along with Tamir Bryant. The 6-foot-2, 270 pound Bryant plays guard on offense as well as defensive tackle.

The Wildcats will attempt to take advantage of so many Lusher players having to see action on both offense and defense, according to Valdez.

“You have to continue to pound on them and once they get fatigued, you have to take advantage and make some things happen. I want to hurry and get on the field and so we can rectify a lot of these things and get back on the winning column,” 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.