It’s generally the No. 1 seed that everyone seems to target in the playoffs but it looks like West St. John has reversed the script going into the Rams’ Class 2A quarterfinal game at Many.
The Many Tigers are unbeaten at 12-0 and the No. 1 seed but the Rams, the No. 24 seed, have a target on their backs. The target dates back to last season when West St. John upset Many, also the top-seed a year ago, in the second round of the playoffs.
“We saw their coaches over the fall break and we’ve spoken a few times since then and we know they are definitely hungry,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said. “They were saying, ‘coach, we have got to get ya’ll again. We’ve want you at the house. We have got to get back at home.’”
The Tigers are a run-oriented bunch with their Wing-T offense. Many has rushed for almost 4,000 yards on the season.
Leading the way is A.J. Carter. Carter has rushed for 1,837 yards and has a nose for the end zone with 33 touchdowns.
Carter may lead the way, but he’s hardly the only option to run the ball for the Tigers.
“Pquawn Williams, Quan Sweet, Shacori Collier and A.J. Carter, they are all big, strong kids and they all can run. They pound on you, they bang on you, they move you around and try to get you to misalign to what they are doing,” Walters said.
Howe do you try and stop such a prolific run offense?
“You have to line up correctly to what they are doing and you have to come across the ball and put some pressure on their linemen. They move around a lot and trap a lot,” Walters explained.
Tigers quarterback Tabarius Garner has attempted only 96 passes all season but with an average of 17.8 yards per completion, he has made the most of his opportunities.
“They lull you to sleep so much with the run. On obviously passing downs, and other downs that are not so obvious, they will play-action and come out of there and he can get the ball to the playmakers,” said Walters.
Williams is the main target for Garner. Of 942 yards through the air, 457 belong to Williams.
“They spread him out at receiver sometimes. They put him at the wing and they leak him out into the pass coverage,” said Walters.
The Tigers run a variation of two different defensive fronts.
“They run a typical 3-4 look and bring a lot of pressure and blitz you from that particular formation. They also run a four-man front but still try to send pressure. They will get after you,” Walters said.
Defensive back Isiah Smith is the team’s leading tackler with 92. Linebacker Darion Miller is second with 68.
Not only do the Rams have a chance to knock off the top seed for the second year in a row while advancing to the Class 2A semifinals, West St. John has a chance to beat a Tigers team that hasn’t lost a home game in five years.
“We get a chance again at the No. 1 seed and to make history on their field,” Walters said.