Can a football team sometimes get too much of a good thing?
Defending champion West St. John earned an opening-round bye in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs. It’s generally a welcome outcome for a team heading into the postseason, but with WSJ having had an open date during Week 9, the Rams have only played once in the last three weeks.
“It’s new territory,” West St. John coach Brandon Walters said. “It’s tough to deal with a little bit. You are dealing with high school guys and if they see any window (of opportunity), they are trying to jump out of it. Its’ tough in that aspect, playing and being off and coming back to it.
“You have to try and do things to keep the guys in the focus of what we do each week. We tried to approach it as if we weren’t off. We practiced the same and tried to do as much as we do during a regular week.”
West St. John’s opponent on Friday night is visiting Homer. The Pelicans (7-4) played their way into the second round, defeating Elton 44-6 a week ago.
“The quarterback (Kemontavous Grant) is a really athletic kid and he will get out there and keep it sometimes. Sometimes Star Thomas is in the wildcat formation and they have another guy, Xavier Webb, who’s a little faster. Thomas pounds the ball and they utilize him pretty well,” Walters said.
In Homer’s win last week over Elton, Thomas rushed for 146 yards and Webb 130.
When Grant looks to throw the ball, his favorite target is receiver Terrenzo Winzer.
“They throw it up to him a lot. He can get the jump ball. He’s a physical kid and plays with some tenacity. He’s also a starting cornerback,” Walters said of Winzer.
The Pelicans are a spread team but will run a number of different formations from their base offense, according to Walters.
“They will throw the screen to different guys in different formations, maybe to a wing or out of the backfield. They will get into some I (formation) and more of a traditional pound it type team but they are trapping with both of their guards and tackles,” Walters explained.
Defensively, the Pelicans play a hybrid version of a 3-4.
“Up front, get a 3-4 look but they will drop those guys into coverages like seven- and eight-man drops. They drop into zone a little bit. They blitz a lot with Ca’taveous Allen a lot at linebacker. He comes across the ball and makes a lot of plays for them,” said Walters.
The Rams only played two home games all year but get to start their postseason title defense at home in Edgard.
“We will get them in the backyard and we have to play West St. John football. We are playing for keeps now and there is no room for mistakes or poor execution. We have a team we feel we can beat and we have to jump on them early and kind of take the game out of their hands. We really need to come out and set the tempo and tone early and impose our will and make sure that is our mindset throughout the game,” said Walters.