New Iberia High football coach Rick Hutson succinctly broke down the tangible motivation with crosstown rival Westgate in Friday’s Iberia Parish Sugar Cane Jamboree.
“This is a highly decorated scrimmage, and they’re your bragging rights for three weeks,” Hutson said. “The other game is bragging rights for a year.”
Hutson, whose team faces Westgate in the final game at 8 p.m. at Lloyd G. Porter Stadium, was referring to a regular-season game when the Yellow Jackets meet the Tigers on Sept. 18.
“We expect them to come out and do their best,” Westgate coach Ryan Antoine said. “We can try and say it’s a jamboree, but in the kids’ minds it’s NISH.”
The Vermilion Parish Jamboree features another enticing matchup when District 8-3A foes Erath and Kaplan collide at 7 p.m. Friday at Abbeville High’s Wildcat Stadium.
The Bobcats and Pirates have long been playing partners in the same district and will meet Oct. 30 in Erath.
“We’ve got a tough draw with Kaplan. They’re predicted to win our district,” Erath coach David Comeaux said. “For both teams it’s important. For us it’s to prove ourselves, coming out the gate like this. It’s exciting for our kids to really kick off the season.”
NEW IBERIA-WESTGATE: New Iberia’s 2-8 record a year ago included a 15-12 regular-season win over Westgate.
The Yellow Jackets, who scrimmaged Northside, return 10 starters, including seven on offense led by senior quarterback Timothy Declouet and wide receiver Tyler Khammany.
“The kids do look forward to it because it’s a cross-town rival,” Hutson said. “They also know we’ve got a game with them in three weeks. They understand that’s the one you really want to win.”
Westgate encountered similar difficulty in 2014, going 3-7 with a young team that now features six sophomore defensive starters and only four returning regulars.
Experience favors the Tigers offensively where eight starters are back led by quarterback Gerald Broussard, wide receiver Phillip Tate and guard Taylor Fondal, who is considered one of the state’s best.
“We didn’t have a scrimmage, so this gives us a starting point and lets us know where we can make adjustments,” Antoine said. “It’s a crosstown rival, a quality 5A opponent with kids that have been playing against each other all their lives.”
ERATH-KAPLAN: Besides an early gauge against the district front-runner, Erath will also get the opportunity to defend Kaplan’s Wing T offense, a formation the Bobcats will face in their first two regular-season games against Delcambre and Catholic-New Iberia.
“It’s good for us to get used to it,” Comeaux said. “Kaplan runs it so good. Their line comes off the ball well and so hard. We’ll be challenged.”
For the second straight week Erath faces a team favored to win its district after taking on Cecilia of District 5-4A and its standout running back Raymond Calais in a scrimmage .
“They have their best team in 10 years,” Comeaux said. “I was proud of the way our kids fought. Calais exposed us a couple of times, and I thought that was good for us to learn from our mistakes. You want to get better and play your heart out.”