If last Friday’s game is any indication, teams in Class 1A may need to start worrying about defending champion West St. John once again.
After playing their usual pre-district slate against higher-classification teams, the Rams returned to the Class 1A level in a final tune-up before the start of league play. West St. John won 48-14 to head into district play 3-2 on the season.
“It was a pretty sloppy game out there in the mud and in the rain. We were able to do some good things positively. We still have a lot to clean up. There were a lot of mistakes. There were far too many penalties. We still have some little things we need to iron out and fix right now,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.
Friday night, the Rams visit Houma Christian.
A year ago, an unbeaten Houma Christian went into the game with the second-highest power ranking in Division IV. The Warriors left with Edgard with a 61-6 loss after West St. John opened the game with a 35-point first quarter.
The Warriors return several starters from a team that went on to finish 6-4 a year ago.
“They have Zachariah Trujillo back. He’s a really tough kid. He’s also a linebacker for them as well. They are going to pound him. He’s a big, strong runner and runs pretty fast,” Walters said.
Chad Portier and Eyan Webre also see action at running back, but the rushing attack is mostly a one-two punch of Trujillo and quarterback Brent Roger.
“They are a duo back there and the offense pretty much goes through those guys,” Walters said of Trujillo and Roger.
Westyn Spry is one of the team’s top receivers.
“They show a lot of different formations,” Walters said. “They run some things similar to what we run. It’s some things that we are used to seeing. We definitely have to prepare for certain things formation-wise.”
The start of district play means the Rams will be taking on teams with similar roster sizes and featuring several players who have to play on offense, defense and special teams.
Roger and Trujillo, for example, play linebacker for the Warriors.
“It’s even-steven now as far as roster size and the amount of depth you have to pull from. It’s definitely now that your best eleven will play and have to come to play each play,” Walters said.
Houma Christian operates out of a 4-2-5 alignment on defense.
“They play more with two-high and cover-2 to kind of defend more against the pass. They will blitz a little bit. They will even jump into a five-down look and a 3-4 and try to play some coverages behind it,” Walters said.
In the age of power rankings and playoff seeding, district play doesn’t have the same meaning as it once did for some coaches. Walters, for one, said he believes in the merits of being a league champion.
“As a coach, I want to win,” Walters said. “I don’t care if it’s district or pre-district or whatever, I want to win it. My approach is the same. It’s each week at a time and win one game at a time against one opponent. I just want to beat that opponent. We will try to get the kids to focus on that.
“We schedule the big games in pre-district and play those bigger opponents of high quality because we know we can get points down the line from them and that’s the way the system is set up but you still have to play the games yourself. We want to be the top of our district and that’s where we feel we belong. To be able to do that and live by that standard, we have to go out and win. That’s what I try to put out into the guys.”
To do so, the Rams will need to play better in district play than they did in the win over White Castle, despite the margin of victory a week ago, according to Walters.
“I have been saying this for a few weeks now, but we have to get West St. John to play perfect football for four quarters,” the West St. John coach said. “I don’t want to seem arrogant as far as last week, winning by that margin and say, ‘oh, we played bad,’ but we did. If you watched the game or looked at some of the things we want to see from certain kids in certain spots, we didn’t do our best. It was fortunate we turned out on top, but we can’t make the mistakes we’ve been making or get penalized and create dumb plays and expect to go on. That’s what we want to focus on right now – clean up the bad plays and execute to our fullest possibility.”