It’s been a steady of stream of challenges this season for St. James’ football team that hits a crescendo Friday with a highly anticipated matchup.
Not only is Class 3A’s eighth-ranked St. James (6-1, 2-0) hosting top-ranked De La Salle (6-0, 2-0) at 7 p.m. in a matchup of District 10-3A tri-leaders, the Wildcats will also pay tribute to their 24-member senior class.
“Everything’s on the line,” St. James coach Robert Valdez said. “It has district championship implications, power points, pride and a legacy of tradition that we both want to build on. I just want the whistle to blow so we can get started.”
Nearly a month since its only loss of the season — a 63-25 setback at No. 2 University High (7-0, 3-0), No. 4 West Feliciana (6-1, 3-1) has responded with three straight victories and hosts District 6-3A co-leader Madison Prep Academy (3-3, 3-0) in a key encounter at 7 p.m. Friday.
“You lose, you lose, it doesn’t matter if it’s by 30, 40 or one,” West Feliciana coach Robb Odom said. “Our kids knew after the game our goals were still in front of us. We have 20 seniors. They know what’s at stake every week.”
No. 10 The Dunham School (6-1, 4-0) visits Northeast (4-2, 1-2) in District 7-2A action, while No. 7 St. Helena (6-1, 4-0) entertains No. 2 Amite (7-0, 4-0) in District 8-2A .
DE LA SALLE-ST. JAMES: Valdez said the matchup of his team, rated No. 1 in the Class 3A nonselect power ratings, and De La Salle, No. 3 in select Division II, is predicated on the Wildcats’ speed against the Cavaliers’ interior strength and athleticism.
“They’ll let us know exactly where we are,” Valdez said. “Whether we can play an elite team, play on that level and be able to win.”
Nicholls State quarterback commitment Julien Gums (57-572, six TDs) paces a De La Salle offense that averages 44.3 points.
St. James is expected to play two quarterbacks: Shamar Smith (31 of 63, 545 yards, five TDs) and Demarcus Williams, who has worked his way back from an injury.
MADISON PREP-WEST FELICIANA: The Saints answered their lone loss with a 49-13 home victory over Brusly, igniting a three-game streak where they have outscored the opposition by a combined 135-21.
Quarterback Derek Turner has completed 31 of 63 passes for 822 yards and 12 TDs and added 374 yardds rushing with six scores. Davon Harris is next with 44 carries for 356 yards and 5 TDs.
Madison Prep’s also caught fire since a 0-3 start, rallying last week for a 28-22 road win over Baker. Senior running back Tyrese Walker led the Chargers with 17 carries for 141 yards and two TDs.
“We talk with the kids that if we do what we have to do, and get better at the things we do, we’re going to be fine,” Odom said.