There seems to be an example each week to demonstrate just how different the 2020 season has been.
It has even found a way to affect the St. James-Lutcher rivalry.
In the Wildcats’ 44-0 win a week ago over Assumption, St. James quarterback Marquell Bergeron attempted 25 passes, completing 15 for 215 yards.
“Anytime you see a stat line that has over 20 passes in a game, it’s not my comfort zone,” St. James coach Robert Valdez chuckled. “We knew that we had to get him (Bergeron) in situations to be able to make some plays. We have to get him comfortable.
“I think when you play St. James Robert Valdez-coached team, you know we will look to run the football. They (the Mustangs) did a good job of putting numbers in the box and forced my hand a little bit to throw the ball. As he develops and continues to grow and get comfortable, we can become a little bit more dynamic and multiple in the things we try to do.”
Meanwhile, Lutcher was only 4 of 15 passing for 47 yards in a 33-13 loss to St. Amant.
The Bulldogs had 44 rushing attempts – 22 each by running back Ra’saun Storks and quarterback D’Wayne Winfield. Storks ended up rushing for 128 yards and Winfield 153.
While Lutcher has been known for years for its prolific offense, the Bulldogs also have had their share of 1,000-yard rushers. That, however, usually came from one back, with the ball going in the air much more than 15 times.
“It looks like we have flip-flopped roles a little bit. They’re trying to ground and pound, and we’re opening it up with the Air Raid,” said Valdez.
In the case of Lutcher, Valdez said, the Bulldogs are simply trying to make top use of their best football players.
“They have a lot of good football players and right now they (Storks and Winfield) are the bell cow guys,” the St. James coach said. “They are the guys getting a lot of work. They are big kids. They are kids that can take the pounding and physicality of carrying the ball so many times.
“Their passing game is not too far around the corner. I think they fell they have an opportunity and advantage to do that, but they will throw the ball.”
Both teams go into the District 9-3A opener 2-1 on the season when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday in Lutcher.
St. James is ranked No. 2 in Class 3A following its bounce-back win over Assumption.
“It was good to get back on the winning column,” Valdez said. “We felt after the Destrehan game there were things we could have done and could have played better. You want to hurry up and get that taste out of your mouth. You can’t wait to play the next week.”
When taking on the Bulldogs, the Wildcats’ task will be to try and contain the duo of Storks and Winfield.
“That’s the one-two punch they are having with the quarterback, D’Wayne Winfield. If you take one away, the other one will be able to make plays,” said Valdez.
One of the punches is represented by Storks.
“He’s a big, athletic back,” Valdez said of Storks. “He does well within their scheme. They run a lot of inside zone powers and counters. They pull their linemen a lot. They are just trying to find him lanes. Once he gets I the open field, he has the speed to take it.”
Representing the other punch if Winfield.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s continuing that Lutcher tradition of phenomenal athletes at quarterback. He’s big. He’s physical. He had tremendous speed. He has some wiggle where he makes people miss in the open field,” said Valdez.
Winfield, a sophomore, is the team’s leading returning receiver from a year ago but throwing the ball to himself has not been an option.
His options include the likes of Sam Scott and Noah Detillier.
“They are two different type of guys. Scott is a tall, vertical, rangy receiver that they like to extend the field with with the long ball. The Detillier is one of those tough, scrappy, short-to-intermediate give-me-the-ball-now and make some plays. They will run the tough outs, end cuts, slants, and things like that,” Valdez explained.
Defensively, the Bulldogs love to blitz, according to Valdez.
“They will send anybody and everybody. We have to make sure we are sound with that,” the St. James coach said.
Anchoring the Lutcher defensive line is senior Carter Poche, who has been a starter since his freshman year.
Other notables long the defensive front include Ty Cooper, Copeland Williams, and Colin Roques.
Among the other top defenders for the Bulldogs are Tevin Long, Zack Poche and Robert Ursin.
While the run-pass roles may have switched a bit between St. James and Lutcher, there are other differences going into Friday’s game.
Because of coronavirus restrictions, Friday’s game will be one of the few times in the rivalry that will not have a packed house.
“It will not be as loud as it used to be. You will actually be able to hear yourself thinking a little bit,” said Valdez.
The St. James coach said he would prefer a full house and what it represents to the schools and communities.
“Hopefully, by next year, this stuff is gone, so we can get back to normal. It’s bigger than just what it is. It’s half days (at school) on Fridays. It’s tailgating and all that stuff we won’t be able to do.”