The St. James football team has a new word for the week coming off a 21-2 loss to Destrehan that snapped a 16-game winning streak for the Wildcats.
“Every week, we have a word of the week. This week, the word is ‘Humility.’ It basically humbles us a little bit. It put our feet back on the ground. Hopefully, it gets us back to work and perfect the basics and get back after it,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said.
Mistakes hampered the Wildcats (1-1) in their first loss dating back to the 2018 season.
“We win as a team and we lose as a team,” said Valdez. “Defensively, we did a pretty good job of containing them. We had some miscues on special teams. We had some missed plays offensively.
“Coming into the game, we knew they were going to be a very, very tough task, but just have to be able to execute. We have to eliminate the turnovers and eliminate the mistakes. That’s a formula to lose a game on any level – high school, college or pro.”
The loss, in the long run, may have a therapeutic result for the Wildcats, according to Valdez.
“Winning overshadows a lot of bad habits and you tend to overlook some things because the final product is to win. When you don’t win, all of those things are obvious things you have to work on and fix. There are some positives that have come out of losing this game. It’s a wakeup call for the coaches, players, and everybody in the program,” the St. James coach said.
The Wildcats look to get back to their winning ways when they host the Assumption Mustangs at 7 p.m. Friday in Vacherie.
The Mustangs (1-1) are coming off a 35-10 triumph over Denham Springs – the first win for Keith Menard as coach.
Menard, who took over as Mustangs coach after a previous stint at Central Lafourche, brings a new offensive style to Assumption.
“They have a new offense and they are doing some things differently this year with the RPOs (run-pass option) and running the ball,” Valdez explained.
Guiding the offense is quarterback Sage Rivere. Rivere is coming off the Denham Springs game in which he accounted for four touchdowns, including three passing.
“He has a real quick release and a real good command of the offense,” Valdez said of Rivere.
Rivere has several weapons he can go to. Chief among them is Jaden Tyler. Tyler had 11 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Denham Springs.
“He has a very talented receiver in Dontrell Thompson. That’s the guy they throw deep to, give it to him on end-arounds. They try to incorporate him in as many ways as possible,” said Valdez.
Others in the receiving corps include D’ante Davis, Marcus Mollere, and Tramon Oliver, along with tight end Jayden Goudy.
Assumption’s top runner is Jakeice Gilton.
“They do a pretty good job with the running game to set up the pass. It makes them balanced,” Valdez noted.
The Mustangs’ defensive base is a 4-2-5 alignment.
“We went from a team in Destrehan that was big and basically played gap-control defense to a team in Assumption that is gap attacking. They are trying to make plays in the backfield,” pointed out Valdez.
Top defenders for Assumption include defensive tackles Jamil Joseph and Jamir Joseph, linebackers Jarius Bridges and Lance Blanchard, along with free safety Shae Thibodeaux.
“They are not the biggest, but they play fast and relentless,” Valdez said of the Assumption defense.
Being in a smaller district, even in a coronavirus-shortened season of eight games, St. James has the opportunity to play three non-district opponents before opening league play next week against rival Lutcher.
“Given the circumstances that we’ve had, to be able to have a couple of games before you get into district is very, very key,” said Valdez.
“We didn’t have a spring,” the St. James coach continued. “We really didn’t have an effective summer and we are still trying to jell. For us, we are doing it with some first-time starters. Getting these games in is priceless.
“You are getting in games that are going to be very good and will win some games and help you out with your power points. Once you get into district, it kind of evens out a little bit because everybody plays everybody. We have chance to get some good power points, good reps against quality teams that will challenge us. I believe iron sharpens iron and playing this type of competition will only make us better.”