THIBODAUX — For the first time since 2010, St. James football reigns supreme over the district.
With a 38-7 win over E.D. White Catholic in the regular-season finale, the Wildcats completed a sweep of of District 9-3A and possibly sealed their fate as the No. 1 seed in the upcoming LHSAA playoffs.
But the best part of it all is that coach Robert Valdez said he believes the Wildcats might just be playing their best football at the right time.
“It’s phenomenal,” Valdez said. “We’ve been working so hard and I think our program is so deserving, our community is so deserving. We hadn’t done this in about nine years and we’re outright district champions. Just proud of the kids and the work we put in.”
It was a dominant run through district play for St. James (10-0, 5-0 district), outscoring opponents 219-26 through five games. Two of the past three games were shutouts and Friday night was a few minutes away from being the third in a row.
The defense was so good, in fact, that E.D. White (5-5, 3-2) didn’t make it past the SJHS 25-yard line until late in the fourth quarter after the Wildcats built a 38-0 lead and pulled its starters from the game.
The closest the Cardinals came to putting points on the board prior to that came early in the second half when St. James fumbled the ball on a double-reverse flea flicker that quarterback Shamar Smith put on the ground at about the Wildcats 40-yard line.
St. James would not be without the ball for long, though, as defensive back Brad Batiste reeled in his second interception in as many weeks when he picked off E.D. White’s Cailun Griggs in the end zone.
The Wildcats held the Cardinals to 151 yards of total offense a week after holding Patterson to 123 yards of total offense.
“They have speed all over the place,” EDW coach Kyle Lasseigne said. “When we watch the film, we’re going to see offensively, initially you think you have something going here and then their team speed holds it. Against some people it might go for a touchdown and it goes for 10 (against St. James). Or it might go for 10 against some people and now it’s going for three.”
That team speed didn’t stay on the defensive side of the ball, either.
St. James jumped out ahead on the opening drive of the game as Smith led his team down the field on a 9-play, 70-yard march to the end zone that was capped off by his own 36-yard touchdown run.
Smith found the end zone two more times on the night, all on the ground. He finished with 128 yards on 11-of-18 passing and another 69 yards on 12 carries.
But it was running back Sean Lebeouf who carried the bulk of the workload with 21 carries for 114 yards. It took him a while to get into the end zone but eventually made it in with a 27-yard run untouched with 14 seconds to play in the third quarter.
He was unconcerned with his stats, though. Lebeouf was just ready to start celebrating the district title.
“It’s a dream come true,” Lebeouf said. “Not too much more I could ask for for my senior year — other than win a state championship.”