READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? Scrimmages set stage for jamborees/new season

BEGINNING A REVERSE...SJHS Eagle QB Mike Martinez (9) hands the ball off to RB Josh Johnson (21) to begin a reverse handoff play. A split second later, Johnson gave the ball off to SE Da’Vante Williams (18), who went left for big yardage behind a block by Josh Oubre (71) and other Eagle linemen.

Parish high school football teams went through wet, but active scrimmages late last week to set the stage for this week’s round of jamborees and the 2009 gridiron season, which begins next week.

Plaquemine High heads to Port Allen High’s annual Jamboree for the first time. The Green Devils will play fellow 3-A W.L. Cohen High (New Orleans) around 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday, August 27). St. John High also goes to a jamboree for the first time as the Eagles head to Redemptorist High in Baton Rouge for the annual Catholic Jamboree. They will play 4-A St. Michael’s High tomorrow (Friday) at 6 p.m.

White Castle High hosts the only local jamboree tonight (Thursday) when the Bulldogs host parish and district rival East Iberville High as well as Jackson High in a round robin of gridiron action.

EIHS takes on Jackson the first contest at 7 p.m., followed by WCHS against Jackson and then EIHS against hosting WCHS.


The Green Devils had to wait an extra day before they could line up against Class 3-A state power Patterson High.

Their scrimmage was originally slated for last Friday afternoon at Patterson High, but was moved to Plaquemine and then cancelled.

The two 3-A clubs finally lined up to work out Saturday at Nicholls State in Thibodaux, playing on artificial turf in mid-afternoon heat.

“It was a great scrimmage when you take in the fact we went up against one of the best teams in our classification that has one of the best running backs and veteran offensive lines in the state. We also sent the boys out there in probably the hottest conditions they will play in this season. The workout gave our staff a chance to see how our team would step up to a real challenge. I thought they did a decent job,” explained Coach Bob Howell.

“Obviously, we have a lot of work left to be done. That is always the case at this point in the season and considering the records of recent Plaquemine teams. I saw things I liked and I saw some things I did not like. We moved the ball at times, we stopped them at times, and we made mistakes on both sides of the ball. We had a few fumbled exchanges. We had some confusion with our blocking schemes. And we had a little trouble lining up correctly against some of their formations. Overall, we put ourselves in the position to have made it a good contest and that is saying a lot considering the caliber of team we went up against,” noted the first-year PHS head coach.

Standout all-state Lumberjack running back Kenny Hilliard broke only one big run in the scrimmage for a touchdown, covering around 35-40 yards. The rest of the time the Green Devil defense held the Lumberjacks to shorter pickups, but did allow drives. Patterson tallied four times in the workout to once for the Green Devils.

“We got them in third down and long situations a few times. They got out of the hole a couple of times on us with screen passes that worked for them. Overall, I have to say our defense battled them on every play,” said Howell.

Offensively, the Green Devils managed a couple of drives and had success on quarterback and fullback runs. They also hit on a few passes. One key catch was made by senior wideout Reggie Travis, who made a grab on a post pattern to keep a PHS drive going.

“Our conditioning was good. We were tested by a good opponent and in very hot conditions on that artificial surface. The boys played hard from start to finish. They might have made some mistakes, but they were made going full speed and that impressed our staff. The scrimmage amount to about the same time as a regular football game, so I would say the boys had a good preparation workout,” noted Howell.

The PHS coach said pre-jamboree workouts this week would emphasis correcting mistakes and improving the play of the Plaquemine High football team. “We aren’t going into the jamboree looking any further than our own football team. Our attention will be on getting our team ready and not so much as looking at how to beat Cohen High. We went into the scrimmage with the same intention. Our preparation concerns our team, our schemes, and each player performing his position,” noted Coach Howell.


PS SPORTS watched as St. John’s Eagles scrimmaged visiting 5-A Scotlandville High Thursday evening on a wet COPAC field in Plaquemine.

The Eagles, picked by preseason forecasters to be the top-finishing club in the parish yet again, handled the upper classification foes with ease.

St. John’s defense bottled up the visiting Eagles throughout the scrimmage, while the locals’ offense tallied twice and the defense once.

Several starters on the SJHS club admitted on the sidelines between series that they were glad to tangle with the 5-A foes early in the season, rather than later on.

“They are out of shape like they were last year when we scrimmaged them before the season,” noted one SJHS Eagle.

Another commented: “Scotlandville is a slow starter. They don’t get going until their district begins and they surprised a lot of people in their district last year. They will get in shape and be a much tougher team later in the season.”

Easy comparisons were made on the sidelines between enormous Scotlandville fullback Nick Norman and former St. Helena Central running back Darin Self, who broke a number of long plays on the SJHS defense last season.

“Self is a lot quicker and stronger than Scotlandville’s (player). We beat them in the playoff game last year despite what Self did to us. We contained him just enough,” noted an Eagle veteran.

Scotlandville showed up with a couple of 6-7, 265-lb. offense line starter. One of whom former Plaquemine High assistant Gerald Cayer, who is now at SHS, said will be playing college and pro football, if he stays focused.

The big foes could do little to stop the SJHS defense, which controlled the line of scrimmage and took advantage of quickness in the secondary and at linebacker. Scotlandville’s quarterback struggled with the wet football and lost it several times.

Scotlandville began the first 15-play offensive series between the two teams’ starting units. After Norman gained a first down on two runs, the ball got away from the SHS offense near the SJHS sidelines. Junior safety Kade Yarbrough alertly picked up the loose pigskin and dashed 30 yards untouched for a turnover touchdown.

The foes got the ball back to continue their 15-play series and immediately the Eagle defense came up with another turnover. This time it was linebacker Ryan Suarez picking off a pass about 20-yards up field.

Another bad pitch and a smothering SJHS defense, led by Warren Bates, Corey David, Suarez, and Nathan Voison, forced the opponents to give up the football without ever getting to the locals’ side of the field.

St. John’s offense took to the field and looked shape running its Spread Wing T attack. North Iberville High transfer Steven Williams got things going with a pass reception of a tipped pass from QB Mike Martinez for a quick first down. Fullback Kaleb Campesi followed with an 8-yard pickup and then Martinez hit RB Josh Johnson with a 20-yard first-down pass. Not long after SE Da’Vante Williams took a reverse handoff in the backfield and went 25 yards for a touchdown.

St. John remained in possession of the ball to finish their 15-play set and a 10-yard pickup came on a cross-field pass from Martinez to Johnson. Martinez kept the ball for a 7-yard gainer and then Johnson went for 5 yards on an off-tackle run. Tight end Steven Brocksmith then pulled in a 20-yard pass from Martinez. Williams and Campesi used runs to gain another first down, but a pair of incomplete passes (one to the end zone) seemed to stall the Eagle offense momentarily. The Eagles went back to Williams for a handoff and it confused the Scotlandville defense well enough to send the sophomore streaking to the end zone for his second TD of the 15-play set.

St. John Coach Barry “Tut” Musemeche seemed obviously pleased because he had to get vocal in instruction only a couple of times with his first team players. A missed block here and there and a back hitting the wrong hole were the only times the coach had to put a little volume to his voice.

Second team units took to the field and St. John managed to out gain the visitors in an exchange of defensive-offensive series.

Rain began to fall a little harder by the time the first team units went back on the field. Coaches moved from behind the live action to the sidelines for the final four 15-play workouts. Again, SJHS’ defense stalled and pushed back the Scotlandville offense. Later, the hosts’ offense bogged down as well as the field became more of a mess from the heavier rain. The two second units closed out the scrimmage taking turns on offense without much offensive action.


The Bulldogs manhandled a weak North Central High team last week, scoring four times in their road scrimmage and shutting down the hosting Hurricanes’ offense.

White Castle QB Ronald Martin hit on several passes to receivers Shaquille Armstead and Leo Jones, while RBs Tyree Bracken, Jonathan Roberts, and Sha’Michael Valentine took turns picking up big yardage on the ground.

Despite their dominance, Coach Ferrante Dominique said his ball club still has a lot of work left to do in preparation for the upcoming season. The Bulldogs expect to find out more about their potential in their jamboree this evening. Both Jackson and East Iberville are expected to be improved from last season with several returning veterans in their lineups.


New East Iberville High head coach Kelsey Dotson said his Tiger football team did “okay” with some “bright spots” in their scrimmage Friday with Oberlin High.

“Oberlin gave us a good workout. They come from a tough Class A district and have a strong football team. They play power offensive football and run right at you out of tight formation and a double wing,” commented Dotson.

The Tiger coach said his club did not fair very well in the first round of the scrimmage, but they rallied back to play well in the later going.

“Our first units stepped up on both sides of the ball in the second half. We drove the ball down the field on offense. The boys showed no quit in them. They did not look like the old East Iberville, which would give up against adversity. Seeing that kind out attitude from the kids was very pleasing,” noted Dotson.

The Tiger offense was paced by touchdowns scored by fullback Mitch Johnson and wide receiver Jonathan Belvin. Dotson said Belvin did a solid job of getting open and catching some key passes for the offense. He also noted that first-year player Nick Brooks ran the ball well in the workout. The coach added that Marlon Stewart and Casey Warthen were leaders on the line for the Tigers.

Dotson said the Tiger defense “worked together” and did “okay overall”.

The Tiger mentor said a wet playing field had an effect on the level of competition.