Former Hahnville coach Lou Valdin used to call the jamboree a dress rehearsal for special teams.
Most of the current River Parish coaches follow that mantra.
“Now we will involve special teams. We have to get our special teams cranked up. We need to get them organized and get them ready for the first ball game. Special teams plays a big part of field position,” said St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica.
Monica’s Comets will play its jamboree at St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday. The start time for the junior varsity is 6:30 p.m., with the varsity matchup to follow. Also on Friday, Lutcher plays at Destrehan with the junior varsity beginning at 6 p.m. Riverside Academy plays at Mandeville in a game that will take place immediately after the John Curtis-Franklinton game.
Jamboree action in the River Parishes begins on Thursday. At Joe Keller Stadium in Reserve, West St. John will square off against Amite at 6 p.m., followed by a contest between Landry-Walker and East St. John. Hahnville will host Jesuit and St. James is at home against Donaldsonville. Those two games will feature junior varsity and varsity contests. The game Jesuit-Hahnville game is slated to kick off at 5:30 p.m. while the Donaldsonville-St. James matchup is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Most fans think of kicking the football and fielding kicks when they think of special teams. A large part of the kicking game actually takes place on the sideline.
“All the ancillary things you do factor in the game. You make sure all the equipment is right, you make sure where to line up and where to go on the sidelines,” said Riverside Academy coach Bill Stubbs.
It’s really more about communication than anything else.
“I think the biggest thing for us this week is working on those exchanges, getting those different groups on and off the field,” said St. James coach Dwain Jenkins. “Last week in the scrimmage, coaches were on the field and kind of controlled substitutions. This week, going live, your special teams you have to see about getting those people on and off the field.
“The second thing you are looking for is that communication on the sidelines to the field. Offensively, with us being no-huddle, it’s something you have to work on. It’s something you try to simulate in practice but it’s different when the lights are on and people are in the stands.”
All of the teams are coming off of scrimmage games a week ago. While neither scrimmages nor jamborees count, the approach to each contest may differ somewhat.
“It’s different than the scrimmage because I kept my practice routine. In the jamboree I try to do a game routine, not so much for the jamboree as to get us used to the next 10 weeks,” explained Lutcher coach Tim Detillier.
“This week we want to make sure we clean up some of the mistakes we made. We will have the same approach as far as preparation. Also, now we will have to prepare for special teams and get those things ironed out,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.
“Because we weren’t very effective offensively, we made some personnel changes on the offensive line,” Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio said, referring to last week’s scrimmage against Northshore. “From a scheme standpoint, we will try to continue to do what we are doing. We have to make sure that when we run certain plays, we have the right personnel on the field. Defensively, we want to continue to be a good tackling team and run to the football.”
The jamboree also is a last change for evaluation before the games count for real.
“It’s the last strong opportunity to get a good evaluation on a lot of your guys, especially guys that are on the bubble,” said Stubbs.
“This whole process leads up to who will be your starters in Week 1. We got some questions answered from the scrimmage and try and nail down who should be our starters and see how they come through in front of the home crowd and see if they can handle that situation. It’s an on-going evaluation process but I think at this time, you have to narrow it down and get ready for the season,” offered Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux.
Not all coaches, however, see the jamboree as merely a dress rehearsal.
“For us it will be a mental checkup to see exactly what we need to do to find the right solutions for a winning approach. Right now, we don’t seem to have it,” Monica said.