You have to excuse West Feliciana coach Robb Odom and his counterpart Cedric Anderson of East Feliciana for taking a little enjoyment out their jamboree games last week.
It’s not every week either team gets the opportunity to face a Class 5A school and not only compete on even terms, but emerge victorious.
West Feliciana took a 14-6 win over Zachary, the state’s fifth-ranked team in Class 5A, while East Feliciana of District 7-2A rallied for a 20-19 victory over McKinley, another 5A school.
“If we have some good fortune (with injuries), we can play and compete with anybody,” said Odum, whose team competes in District 6-3A. “Our kids work hard, want to win and do the right thing.”
Both coaches were also quick to keep the results of their jamborees in perspective — tempering their emotions in a game that lasted half the time of a regular game.
What it did manage to do, though, was to raise the stakes of the clash between the two schools from neighboring parishes when West Feliciana visits East Feliciana at 7 p.m. Friday at Clinton Middle School in a marquee season opener involving lower classification teams.
“You have to go out and play the game,” Anderson said. “It differs from week to week. It’s a good rivalry with us being close in proximity. We have to go and play sound football.”
Another all-local game that requires watching will be Episcopal traveling to Christian Life Academy at 7 p.m., while Brusly visits White Castle, also at 7 p.m.
The loss of college signees Jazz Ferguson (LSU) and Ryan Reed (Northwestern State) may have diminished West Feliciana’s chances in the eyes of some observers. The Saints were on the outside of the Class 3A preseason poll and were among several teams receiving votes.
West Feliciana turned some heads with its jamboree win — a game in which running back R.C. Carmenia scored a touchdown and Darius Davis added the game-winner with a 95-yard punt return.
Odom credited the play of defensive tackle Hunter Smith, cornerback Treyshawn Cummings and Davis for helping the Saints limit Zachary’s potent offense to six points.
“Any time a 3A school beats a 5A school that’s got a real good football team, your kids get excited,” Odom said. “Our kids played hard but made a lot of mistakes. They played hard and believed in themselves.”
The one tangible aspect Anderson took from his team’s jamboree was its resiliency.
McKinley led on three occasions only to have East Feliciana answer each time.
The Tigers took advantage of explosive plays from Ge’Montae Franklin on a 90-yard kickoff return and Justin Beckwith’s 73-yard catch and run from quarterback Kavon Moore.
Moore closed the Tigers’ scoring with an 18-yard TD to Kamron Irvin in the final two minutes.
“That speaks volumes, to have character and show they can fight,” Anderson said. “They gave effort on every play. Once you can do that, anything’s possible.”