NEW ORLEANS – St. James found out early Saturday afternoon in its three-team scrimmage to conclude spring practice what the Wildcats are capable of and what they need to work on.
In the scrimmage played at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium, St. James faced both St. Augustine and Helen Cox.
Each team squared off against the other in a series of 15-play possessions. Possessions began at the offense’s 25-yard line. As long as the offense continued to convert first downs, the drive continued. If a team failed to convert on fourth down, the ball reverted back to the offense’s 25 and play continued until the 15 plays were used up.
The first time the Wildcats took the field was on offense against St. Augustine.
St. James opened with a midseason-looking drive. The Wildcats methodically moved the ball downfield, looking as though they make take up all 15 plays to score.
The Wildcats reached the St. Aug 23-yard line before St. James quarterback Shamar Smith was intercepted deep in Purple Knights territory.
“I think we showed a lot of patience taking, I think, 14 plays and then having the little mishap with the interception. We know we can fix that,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said.
The St. James defense took the field next against the Purple Knights and was the victim of big plays.
Three plays into the possession, St. Augustine quarterback Kendell Sampson hooked up with Josh White on a 46-yard touchdown pass.
The St. James defense stopped the Purple Knights on offense and the ball went back to the 25. The next play, the last of the possession, Sampson found White again, this time on a 75-yard bomb.
St. James found similar success on its opening against Cox but this time was able to cash in. Thanks to several big runs by Smith, the Wildcats marched down the field with the St. James quarterback capping the drive on an 8-yard run.
Unlike the first try against St. Aug, the Wildcats’ defense kept the Cox offense at bay.
“The offensive line is giving us a good push,” Valdez said during a break in the action for the Wildcats. “Shamar is doing the Sharmar thing – he is being special with his legs.
“He’s a little apprehensive with his throws but it will slow down for him. The game will eventually slow down for him and that will make him so much better.”
While the St. James defense gave up some big plays early, it also showed some positive signs, said Valdez.
“The defense played stout. All (the opposing offenses) are doing is making big plays. They threw the ball up a couple of times and made some. But we want to contain the run and we did a good job,” the St. James coach said.
The teams continued to face one another in a similar fashion for several more possessions.
The outcome really didn’t matter. What did was the experience gained by all of the teams as the move toward the 2018 season.
“We got in some good, quality work and we’re seeing a lot of different defenses and looks. You won’t be able to see that on your own,” Valdez said.