- Feature Story
- Game Preview
- George Becnel
- September 05, 2017 - 3:39pm
It’s no fun losing to a rival, especially after having a substantial early lead.
That’s what happened to the West St. John Rams last Friday after leading 27-6 before ultimately losing to St. James 36-33.
“It was tough dealing with it initially. It’s a big game. We definitely want to be on the win side of it. Our kids played pretty hard. They came out and fought. We had some issues with cramping and dehydration and stuff like that. That took its toll, also. We don’t like to make excuses. We have to do things in preparation to better ourselves for that. We have to be able to be able to fight and finish and put people away,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.
Special teams play down the stretch by West St. John allowed St. James to rally back before the Wildcats pulled a wild three-point victory.
“Blocked punts and missed snaps and miscues, it definitely took its toll at the wrong time of the game. We will work to get those things cleaned up. A play here and a play there and we would be having a different conversation. Special teams are ‘special’ as we like to say. It’s an integral part of the game and we definitely want to make sure we are sound with our schemes and our execution of those particular plays, also,” said Walters.
Walters has been on the other end in a big game. Last year the Rams fell behind early before rallying for a 65-37 upset of the Hurricanes in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
“What happened to us the other night is what we did to South Plaquemines. They were up by 21 in the playoffs and we came back and put up some points on them and were able to get the victory. I truly believe they have a chip on their shoulder and that’s to be expected,” Walters said.
South Plaquemines (1-0) enter Friday’s game coming off an 8-6 triumph over Belle Chasse. The game will be podcast via hurricanefootballnetwork.com.
The Rams (0-1) may still feel the fresh sting of the loss to rival St. James but the Hurricanes had an entire offseason to stew over the playoff loss to West St. John.
“The target is here. We are definitely aware of it and we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we took South Plaquemines lightly and expect them to come in here and give us their best,” said Walters.
A number of players who took part in the playoff loss last year return for South Plaquemines. One new face is that of 26-year-old coach Lyle Fitte.
Fitte was part of past championship teams for South Plaquemines when they were led by now West Jefferson coach Cyril Crutchfield. One of those teams won a state title over West St. John.
“I coached that game in 2007 with Coach (Laury) Dupont. I believe that was his senior year when they beat us in the state championship,” said Walters. “I know he’s a South Plaquemines guy. He’s a local kid from the program and he’s definitely doing his best to keep South Plaquemines where they’ve been.”
When West St. John and South Plaquemines met in last year’s playoffs, the Hurricanes were more of a power offense. Fitte has brought back elements of Crutchfield’s favored spread offense.
“Last year they had some bigger kids and line up with a tight end and an ‘I’ backfield and try and pound it. This year, they are more of a spread team,” Walters explained.
South Plaquemines’ quarterback is junior Isaac Williams.
“The quarterback is pretty elusive. He likes to get you out in space. They do a lot of trapping and stuff with him,” said Walters.
A top target for Williams is Truce Williams.
“Truce Williams is a really tall receiver, who also plays defensive back for them,” Walters said.
Elijah Bourgeois, who enjoyed a good game for the Hurricanes in last year’s playoff game against West St. John, returns for his senior season.
“He’s a speedy guy. They like to get it to him all over the field. He had a really good game against us last year. He plays both sides of the ball,” said Walters.
Like Williams and Bourgeois, a number of other Hurricanes play on both sides of the ball. A pair of offensive linemen, Xavier Powell and Cody Everage, also start along the defensive front.
The Hurricanes are very aggressive on defense with a blitz-happy bunch.
“They play eight in the box a lot. If they don’t play eight in the box, they will blitz some other guys and make it eight in the box. They put a lot of pressure on you. They try to shoot all those gaps you have. They try to outnumber you at the line of scrimmage,” Walters explained.
As tough as it may be to put an emotional rivalry loss behind them, that’s all the Rams can do if they expect to move to 1-1 with a win Friday night, according to Walters.
“Week 1 is over with. We have to get ready for Week 2 and beyond and work as if it didn’t happen. We definitely have to minimize the mistakes, correct us being able to sustain until the end. It happened to us twice so far and we definitely make sure that doesn’t become a pattern. We have to continue to fight and don’t get lackadaisical when we are up and when things are good, we have to continue to press and put a team away,” the West St. John coach said.