Things move fast in the world of Robert Valdez these days. The first-year Scotlandville football coach wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My first day at Scotlandville was July 28, so tomorrow it will be one month,” Valdez said. “There’s been a lot of ground to cover, and it’s been great so far. In fact, it’s been so good that I’m wondering when something bad might happen.”
Valdez and the Hornets get their first major public test Friday. Scotlandville hosts one section of the East Baton Rouge Parish Kickoff Classic jamboree. Games start at 6:30 p.m. with Northeast taking on Tara in the first game. Scotlandville meets Glen Oaks in the second game.
Teams play two 12-minute halves at the jamboree that serves as a tuneup for the regular season. Woodlawn and Broadmoor are set to host the other EBR Classic events also at 6:30 p.m.
The EBR jamborees help headline a busy night that also includes jamborees hosted by Zachary, Live Oak, University High, East Ascension, Parkview Baptist, Catholic-Pointe Coupee, Plaquemine and Walker.
What happens with Scotlandville is something many are curious about. The Hornets advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals last fall. The July resignation of coach Eric Randall led to the hiring of Valdez, a move that surprised some people.
After beginning his head coaching career with one season at McKinley, the former Southern University player fashioned a successful stint at Class 1A West St. John, leading the Rams to a state runner-up finish in 2011.
Forging a strong relationship with defensive coordinator Sean Beauchamp was one key for Valdez in the move to Scotlandville. Beauchamp also was a finalist for the top job.
“Coach Beauchamp and I have worked together well,” Valdez said. “He handles the defense, and I try to bring a little offense.
“I knew Scotlandville had talent, but what’s impressed me the most is how competitive these kids are. They push themselves, and they’ve taken in everything we’ve thrown at them in a short period of time.”
The chance to coach at a Class 5A school was one of the things that made the Scotlandville job attractive to Valdez. Like his players, Valdez has had to be a quick study to absorb the differences.
“A lot of it has to do with numbers,” Valdez said. “For example, West St. John has 1A numbers and we only had one lunch period. With 1,500 kids at Scotlandville, there are three lunch periods.
“The numbers give you more depth. The biggest difference you see is with the lineman. I compare 1A and 5A to other conferences and the SEC. Why does the SEC beat people? Because they dominate the line of scrimmage with the best linemen. Your 1A schools all have athletes, but a limited number of big linemen. At a 5A school, you have those guys.”
Watching “those guys,” the linemen, take a step toward dominance is one thing Valdez is looking for Friday night. Execution on special teams is another.
“This is the final dress rehearsal for the season,” Valdez said. “If we can handle special teams and get personnel in the right places, the rest should take care of itself.”