The St. James Wildcats proved they were not quite ready to relinquish the District 9-3A title.
A 50-28 Week 5 loss to Donaldsonville in which St. James fell behind 30-0 at halftime had some wondering how good the 2020 Wildcats were after winning the state title a year ago.
The Wildcats hadn’t lost a game since the defeat to Donaldsonville and went into the regular-season finale against E.D. White on Friday night in Vacherie sporting a 3-1 district mark. The Cardinals went into the game 4-0 in league play and were looking for the outright district championship.
St. James made sure that didn’t happen in emphatic fashion with a 31-0 win.
“It’s a testament to our kids and the program. I think when we lost that game to Donaldsonville, I guess a lot of people thought that we were just a little bit down. The kids came back and kept working and kept believing in what we were doing,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said.
The Wildcats won the game by shutting down E.D. White’s triple-option offense.
“I think our defensive line and linebackers did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and putting them in third-and-long situations,” said Valdez.
The Wildcats (6-2 overall), the defending Class 3A champions, now await the playoff pairings schedule to be announced on Sunday as SJH now begins its postseason defense of its state title.
A 21-yard Alec Mahler field goal gave St. James a 3-0 lead over EDW (6-2 overall) in the first quarter.
Kaden Williams scored on a 1-yard run at the 9:29 mark of the second quarter to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 10-0.
St. James made it 17-0 at halftime after defensive lineman Sai’Vion Jones, an LSU commitment, had a scoop-and-score following his block of a Cardinals punt.
“We saw earlier on the punt before that that we could take advantage of that. Coach (Devonte) Davis pretty much told (Jones) to ‘put on the afterburners and get back as fast as you can and you may have a chance to block it.’ He has such a long reach and wingspan and the kid’s a hell of an athlete. He was able to get the block and the scoop-and-score. That was phenomenal. When that happened it really took a lot out of (the Cardinals),” Valdez said.
It was one of two blocked punts by the Wildcats’ special teams unit.
The Wildcats scored on the opening drive of the third quarter as a 9-yard touchdown run Williams increased the St. James lead to 24-0.
St. James rounded out the scoring in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marquell Bergeron to receiver Shazz Preston.
“We just thought we wanted to get another score in to get the (Cardinals) out of their offense and make them some things they didn’t want to do,” said Valdez.