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SJH, fans find out what its like to be on winning side in spring game

  • Tags:
  • Spring Practice
  • By:
  • George Becnel
  • Posted:
  • May 16, 2013 - 9:43pm

First-year St. James coach Dwain Jenkins addresses his team after the Wildcats' Spring Game against the Miller-McCoy Lions.


Victory-starved St. James fans will take a win any way they can get one.

The Wildcats scored two touchdowns while visiting Miller-McCoy was limited to one in St. James’ Spring Game on Thursday night. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t officially count, but for a program that has not won any sort of football game – officially or otherwise since 2010 – a two-to-one edge in touchdowns served the souls and psyches of players and fans quite nicely.

“I think it’s just the excitement. I think our kids, a lot of people may have given up on them, and they just didn’t feel that confidence that comes with being a St. James Wildcat. Some of that was lost. Tonight, maybe just for a little while, maybe we gave them a glimmer and that if we put the work in and do the things we are supposed to do over the summer, we can turn this thing around,” said first-year St. James coach Dwain Jenkins.

Those involved were quick to point out that it wasn’t the most artistic effort ever put forth on a football field.

“We came out a little sloppy but I told the team, ‘pick it up, pick it up, we will come out with this win.’ We had a few flags but I told them don’t worry about that and worry about the next play,” said Wildcat defensive back Rashaan Dennis.

“It wasn’t always pretty,” Jenkins conceded. “We knew we had a long way to go. It’s a building process. I thought our kids played hard. There were a lot of mistakes, but you can see we are starting to build on some things. Our kids didn’t give up.”

Early possessions for both St. James and Miller-McCoy were penalty- and mistake-filled affairs.

The format for the game featured the starters for each team having the ball for seven possessions. After reserves played a few series, the starters returned for a final possession.

Despite several penalties along the way, Miller-McCoy marched the length of the field on the opening possession of the game. On first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Lions quarterback Melvin Johnson appeared to score, but a penalty pushed Miller-McCoy back to the 6-yard line. On third-and-goal from the 6, Wildcats defender Tevin Gros ended the scoring threat with an interception at the 1-yard line.

The Wildcats returned the favor with an interception to end their opening possession and turned the ball over with a lost fumble on their second possession.

It was one the second drive that St. James lost starting quarterback Lowell Narcisse. The freshman left the game with an injured left ankle. His ankle was taped up and he was on crutches the remainder of the contest.

“It’s a big injury when Lowell Narcisse goes down. He will be our leader on offense. He took all the snaps with the ones all spring long and he got banged up on the second possession. You have to look around and look for somebody to step up. I thought (Quihan) Adams stepped up and did a serviceable job at quarterback and made some things happen at times,” said Jenkins.

Still, the loss of Narcisse limited what the Wildcats could run on offense.

“We think Lowell is a dynamic athlete,” Jenkins said. “He can run and he can throw. He can get a lot of guys involved. When he went down, it kind of limited what we could do. We already had a pretty limited playbook. We only had Day One install of four-day install plan for the spring. When you take the top trigger man out and you go with the next guy and you are already on a limited offense, it will be very, very limited in what you can do but we adjusted well.”

Miller-McCoy’s lone score came on its third possession. Running back Corey Turner, the Lions’ workhorse throughout the game, scored on a 5-yard run.

The Lions started their fourth possession at their own 30-yard line. On first down, Dennis returned an errant Johnson throw for a touchdown to even up the game.

“I was playing my keys. The interception, I just read it and picked it off. I don’t like people to tackle me. That’s just my mentality,” said Dennis.

“That’s not something that was not expected. Rashaan had done that almost every day in practice this spring. He has a knack for making plays when the game’s on the line,” Jenkins said.

The game’s only other score came on the Wildcats’ seventh possession. An interception by Mason Scott off of a deflection gave St. James the ball at midfield. Two plays later, Houston Wiggins scored on a 22-yard gallop.

St. James held off the Lions on Miller-McCoy’s final possession. The Lions had the ball on the Wildcats’ 39 when John Gilmore hauled in a catch from Johnson and appeared to be on his way for a touchdown. He fumbled inside the 5-yard line, with Chase James recovering for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats fumbled on the final play of the game, with Toribio Santa Cruz racing in the end zone. In the wild chase for the loose ball, a Lions player was guilty of an illegal forward pass that allowed Santa Cruz to get the ball. That nullified the score and allowed St. James to claim a long-awaited victory.
 

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.