River Parish football is filled with so much tradition and rivalries, they even include scrimmages.
“I don’t even know how long we have been scrimmaging West St. John. We were scrimmaging West St. John when I was a player,” said Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins, whose Bulldogs will host the Rams at 6 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s a great scrimmage. The kids are familiar with each other. It’s a River Parish rivalry,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said.
Other River Parish teams hosting scrimmages Thursday include East St. John, Riverside Academy and Hahnville.
East St. John will host Karr while Ellender and Episcopal of Baton Rouge visit Riverside. Both scrimmages are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Hahnville was originally slated to play at Northshore but with heavy rain in recent days and Northshore having a grass field, the game was moved to Hahnville. Game time is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
In the case of the West St. John-Lutcher scrimmage, it’s a matter of local teams knowing they will get quality preseason work each year.
“It’s always a good test,” said Jenkins. “You know West St. John, year in and year out, will be one of the top teams in their classification. From a talent standpoint, you know they will always be really talented. Coach Walters does a really good job getting those guys ready to play extremely hard.
“It gives you a true test of the speed of the game. You can kind of see where guys stack up and that’s kind of been good for both of us for a long time.”
“We definitely have an opportunity to still battle with them and they always push us really hard and always take us to the limit. We need that,” Walters said.
The teams have considered making the game a regular-season event in the future.
“Coach Walters and I played around with the idea of trying to see if we could move to a regular-season game at some point in the future and it didn’t work out during this scheduling cycle but it might be something we may move from the scrimmage one day to actually playing a regular-season game sometime in the near future,” said Jenkins.
Like will all scrimmages, it gives the teams a chance to go against someone other than themselves for the first time of the new season.
“You get to the point where you are just playing against yourself, you know what to anticipate in certain looks and guys kind of know what’s coming,” said Jenkins. “Reacting and adjusting to the unknown is one of the big things from a scrimmage.
“It gives you an opportunity to take that next step as far as a progression from an install, controlled, in-house thing and makes kids react to the unknown. It will be the first opportunity to see who will be able to respond and make decisions on the field and retain those things with live action going on around them.”
“There are no winners and losers in a scrimmage but we just want to get out there and perform really well and be able to execute and make sure we line up correctly and do the little things correctly,” said Walters.
The format will be game-like as opposed to situational play.
“Everything is done by series to make it as game-like as possible. We will have the punting game as part of that format but it’s not live. One of the things that’s probably different in our scrimmage than a lot of people is that turnovers are live. A lot of times in scrimmages, you will see a team fumble or throw an interception and you just come back and spot the ball again. In our scrimmage, that’s part of the game because it’s something we think you need to prepare for,” Jenkins said.
Riverside scrimmage: The three-team scrimmage will consist of the first-team units squaring off for a 15-minute quarter. The process will be repeated for second teamers with a 10-minute quarter.
Riverside’s varsity will open the scrimmage by taking on Ellender. After Ellender faces Episcopal, the Rebels will then take on Episcopal.
The format will be game-like.
“I’m just looking to see who we are,” second-year Riverside coach Kevin Dizer said of the scrimmage. “I haven’t seen us against anybody else. I just want to see if my thoughts of our team are in line with what it actually is.
“We have a lot of kids I just haven’t seen on Friday nights, yet. I just want to see how they respond against somebody else.”
East St. John scrimmage: The Wildcats get a formidable scrimmage test against Karr.
“When you talk about playing Edna Karr, you are talking about playing one of the top teams in the state and even the nation, for that matter. I think it’s a good gauge for us. It’s a good opportunity to see where we are in terms of our program going into Year Two,” said East St. John coach Brandon Brown.
Coming out of the scrimmage in good physical healthy is a top priority for Brown.
“No. 1, we just want to come out healthy. I like the chances of our football club this year if we just stay healthy. We also want to see where we are in terms of our development after bringing in a new offensive coordinator in Coach (Larry) Dauterive. Going into Year No. 2 with myself, I think our kids get it right now. That’s a really good opponent to go against to see where we are right now.”
Hahnville scrimmage: The Tigers are in need of a stern test from Northshore, according to Hahnville coach Nick Saltaformaggio.
“Northshore will be a pretty good little test for us,” Saltaformaggio said. “Our jamboree is different this year, we are actually playing Grace King instead of Jesuit because we play Jesuit in Week 9 of the regular season.
Our jamboree has usually been a pretty good gauge for us playing Jesuit. Getting Grace King coming in here, they probably will not have a whole lot of guys on their roster. So, for me, I need to get more of a test from Northshore.”
The scrimmage will feature both situational play and a game-type live quarter.