Seeing his first full-time action since suffering midseason knee and ankle injuries, Demarcus Williams appeared to be in prime form in St. James’ Class 3A playoff opener Friday night against visiting Marksville.
Williams passed for a pair of touchdown passes as St. James, the No. 4 seed, cruised to a 39-0 victory over the Tigers, the No. 29 seed.
St. James (8-3) will play at Madison Prep next Friday. Madison Prep, the No 20 seed, defeated No. 13 seed Caldwell Parish 28-8.
Both of Williams’ touchdown passes were to Shamar Smith. Smith, who opened the year at receiver, has been the Wildcats’ starting quarterback since Williams’ injury.
Smith also has a big night as a quarterback and receiver. Along with hauling in two touchdown passes from Williams, he also threw for a touchdown and ran for another.
“He did a real good job,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said of Williams’ performance. “I was excited for the kid and how he performed. We played two quarterbacks and both played quarterback and receiver. It gave us an opportunity to do some things and diversify our offense.
“We gave (Williams) time to get as healthy as he possibly could but now it’s playoff time. It’s time to put all the chips on the table and kind of go with your guys. Shamar has done a tremendous job filling in and we like to put our best athletes on the field and they really showed it tonight.”
The plan is to continue to use both Williams and Smith at quarterback and receiver, according to Valdez.
“We started at the beginning with Demarcus at quarterback and saw that we had a very good matchup with Shamar at receiver. We will switch them in the middle of a drive. They are so unselfish and they cheer each other on and they want so much for the other one to be successful,” Valdez said.
Williams hooked up with Smith on a 20-yard touchdown toss three minutes into the game to give the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead. The duo hooked up again, this time form 4 yards out for a 13-0 advantage.
After Glen Brown return an interception 62 yards for a touchdown, the Wildcats had a 13-0 lead after one quarter.
“It’s kind of important in the playoffs when you play a team that traveled a little bit to get off to a good start so that kids believe they can compete and win. I think we were able to do that. We came out and made some big plays early and took them out of their rhythm,” Valdez said.
Smith, playing quarterback in the second quarter, connected with Dontaz Sterling on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Smith tossed a two-point conversion pass to Williams to make it 27-0.
Smith added a 9-yard touchdown run to give St. James a 33-0 halftime lead.
Alec Mahler, an eighth grader, connected on field goals in each of the third and fourth quarters to account for the 39-0 final.
“Down the stretch, we are going to be in games that will be closer and those live reps will be real good experience for him,” Valdez said of Mahler’s field goals.