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Valdez: ‘season waits for no one’ as SJH Wildcats prepare for 2018

  • Tags:
  • Feature Story
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • August 10, 2018 - 2:17pm

Shazz Preston (left) tries to fend off a St. James defender while focusing in to catch the ball in a recent Wildcat fall practice session.

To beat the heat, the St. James Wildcats scheduled the first week of fall practice for sessions to be held in the evening.

One thing the Wildcats couldn’t beat Tuesday was lightning.

“We got a chance to break in the new gym. We couldn’t go into the high school gym because they still had some stuff they were putting up and we went to the middle school gym,” said St. James coach Robert Valdez, putting a positive spin on things.

The team was back on the field Wednesday on the dreaded “day before school starts.”

“It’s a typical day before school. Everybody and their momma has something that they got to get – mysterious hair cuts they have to get or last-minute school shopping. But everybody will be here on Picture Day on Friday with nice haircuts and all that,” said Valdez in tongue-in-cheek fashion.

Participation numbers were not at full capacity Wednesday, but the main guys were on hand.

“The usual suspects are here,” Valdez said. “The guys that we really will rely on – guys like Dontaz Sterling, Shamar Smith – they are here, and we are getting in some good work. The season waits for no one.”

The Wildcats went into fall practice coming off a good summer, according to Valdez.

“I think we are getting in a lot of good teaching,” the Wildcats coach said. “When you are young like we are, sometimes you have to slow down a little bit because if you go too fast, you will lose them. I think we are grasping a lot of things on offense, defense and special teams and we getting in some real good teaching points right now. I think the kids are giving great effort.

“We won’t know exactly where we are until we play somebody else and get punched in the mouth because there are a lot of guys that we have to replace.”

Figure on the young Wildcats getting punched in the mouth on August 16 when St. James hosts St. Helena in a scrimmage.

“Any year before this, I would be like we have to make sure we have our offense and defense…if we can get in about 25 percent to 50 percent on offense and defense of what we will use in the season. The biggest thing I want to see from our scrimmage is I want to see effort; execution of our base plays and I want to just see us block and tackle. You can’t teach effort; you’ve got to have it. We can build on effort and if we have proper fundamentals, that will be a big plus for us,” Valdez 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.