Assumption may be known as the Mustangs but St. James game Friday night has the feel of another Battle of the Wildcats.
St. James has taken on teams named Wildcats in games against East St. John and Destrehan. On both of those occasions, the teams involved were unbeaten.
Friday night in Napoleonville, it’s another battle of unbeatens when the St. James Wildcats take on the Assumption Mustangs.
St. James, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, reached this point following a 31-24 win over Destrehan. SJH held a 31-10 lead at one point before holding on for the win.
“We are getting closer to ‘St. James’ football. We will have some have work to do but the effort was there. The kids laid it on the line,” SJH coach Robert Valdez said of the win over Destrehan.
Assumption also remains unbeaten after Damon Bailey, who entered the game in the second half, tossed touchdown passes of 78, 60 and 95 yards in the final five minutes to pull out a 40-34 win last week over Denham Springs.
“That quarterback just sat back there and launched it to a couple of those receivers,” said Walters.
Those receivers include Jalen Tyler and Ra’Shaun Jarvis. Two of the bombs against Denham Springs went to Tyler.
“They don’t have just one receiver,” said Valdez. “They have three of them that can make plays that you need to be able to contain.
“If you play too loose a coverage, the running back gets his. We have to find a way to have defensive balance to try to be able to counteract all aspects.”
The running back is 205-pound senior Tyran Cassie.
“The big running back, Tyran Cassie, we have to account for him. He can run inside and outside. He’s big and physical,” Valdez said.
The Mustangs operate out of an even front on defense.
“They play man coverage and some zone coverage here and there. They do a good job of disguising coverages and try to put you in a mind and confuse your blocking schemes. They will play their lanes. In order to beat them, it’s straight-forward. There is nothing cute. They have just as much speed as everybody else you will not get on the outside and beat them on the edge. Eventually, you will have to go north and south and complete some passes,” Valdez explained.
One of the key defenders is end Tra’Mond Williams.
“He is a very athletic guy. He’s a real rangy guy. You are not really going to get outside of him. You have to be able to block him and he doesn’t stay blocked very long,” said Valdez.
After opening the season against the likes of rival West St. John, plus wins over East St. John and Destrehan, an emotional letdown might seem in the cards for St. James.
With another undefeated team on the schedule, Valdez said, that’s not likely to happen.
“We don’t have time to rest on our laurels. Now the shift goes from patting yourself on your back to, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, this is a very, very serious, well-coached program.’ There should be no letdown,” the St. James coach said.