Although St. James ultimately defeated Donaldsonville 37-6 last Friday, the Wildcats didn’t touch the ball until there was less than 30 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
“That was a first. They say if you keep living, you keep witnessing things. We got the ball back with 27 seconds left in the first quarter,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said.
St. James will get the ball much quicker against Berwick – in fact, the Wildcats will get it a day earlier.
Because of inclement weather expected in the area on Friday, the Wildcats’ homecoming game against Berwick has been moved up to 7 p.m. Thursday in Vacherie.
Berwick, meanwhile, is coming off a drubbing by Lutcher. The Panthers fell to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in district play with the 49-6 loss to the Bulldogs.
After playing a schedule heavy on familiar foes against the likes of West St. John, East St. John, Destrehan, Lutcher and Donaldsonville, the Wildcats find themselves facing an unfamiliar opponent in Berwick.
“I don’t know anything about those guys,” Valdez said. On film, they get after it. They are passionate. Their record is not the best but it looks like they play to have fun and play hard. This is totally unchartered territory for us.”
What Valdez and his Wildcats do know about Berwick is that the Panthers’ offense basically revolves round two players.
One is quarterback Reed Gonzales.
“He does of good job of things they like to do. They are spread. He basically tries to distribute the ball,” Valdez said.
Gonzales generally tries to distribute the ball to Keyon Singleton, who is used in a number of different ways by the Panthers.
“He’s a guy they scheme around,” Valdez said of Singleton. “They try to make sure he gets his touches.”
Like Singleton on offense, Drayvan Bryan is used in different roles on defense.
“He comes in when they go to a four-man front so they don’t really have to substitute people. When they go to a three-man front, he moves to linebacker. When they to a four-man front, he plays defensive tackle,” Valdez explained.
Gonzales and Singleton have been known to see some action in a secondary that also includes the likes of Hayden Landry, Trevor Wiggins and Dylan Cothron.
“The way they play defense is they are set up for those defensive linemen to generate pressure and everybody just sits underneath,” said Valdez. “Therefore, most of the time, the plays are coming to them.
“You have to be able to make them react to formations and make them react to different types of motion and things like that just to get them out of their comfort zone.”
As the wins continue to mount, so too does the expectations for the Wildcats.
“People are starting the chirp and talk about things, we are just trying to stay humble. We have three weeks left in the regular season and all that and we just have to take it one game at a time,” said Valdez.
A slip up or two down the stretch, Valdez said, can undo a lot of what the Wildcats have accomplished to this point in the season.
“All that goes for naught if you don’t come out every week and get it done week by week. They (the Panthers) will have our full attention and I think we are determined to do some good things. We have to take them one week at a time,” the St. James coach said.