Eagles show improvement from prior effort in loss to 5-A power Dutchtown

Tryve Brackin
BATON ROUGE BOUND…Heading to Baton Rouge tomorrow (Friday) night to face longtime 2-A rival Dunham in final preparation for the start of District 8-A play are St. John High Eagles Jared Naquin (51) and Conner Case (7) .

After a sub-par road game performance the week before in a 28-0 loss to 2-A University Lab, Coach Barry “Tut” Musemeche challenged his seventh-ranked St. John High Eagles to show some toughness and grit Friday night when they hosted 5-A undefeated power and fourth-ranked Dutchtown High at Green Devil Stadium. They did just that by rallying back in the first half from a two-touchdown deficit, scoring twice, and gaining a lot more yards than they did the week before against a lesser opponent.

The Eagles ended up losing to the top-ten ranked 5-A visitors by a 34-14 score, but made an impression. The local SJHS club created the best showing of the night out of the three top challengers for future District 8-A honors. While they fell by 20 to the 5-A visitors, White Castle High lost by 26 to 3-A second-ranked Redemptorist and West St. John was routed 30-0 by 2-A fifth-ranked Donaldsonville High.

Playing against a Dutchtown club that had even more convincing victories over 2009 state playoff clubs 5-A Thibodaux and West Jefferson, as well as 4-A Lutcher to open the season, the SJHS Eagles mounted 220 yards rushing, another 53 yards passing, and 18 first downs.

“We played much tougher football than the week before and did so against an outstanding 5-A opponent. We gave them their toughest game so far this season and that is a big compliment for our team,” noted Coach Musemeche in post-game comments.

Indeed, Dutchtown will be the best team any of the parish’s four ball clubs will face this season and could well end up in the late playoffs in the largest classification in the state prep ranks.

The Eagles put themselves in position to catch up with the 5-A Griffons when Dutchtown’s offense fumbled the ball four times and SJHS missed on a potential pass interception. Put in the position to capitalize, the Eagles could not. St. John ended up being outscored 20-7 in the first half and 14-7 in the second half, but they hung with a club three classifications larger and showed a lot more toughness than they did in their road loss a week before to 2-A UHigh.

“We had our chances, but could not get the turnovers. We were that close to giving them an even better game. It is hard to lose a game, but overall, we made progress toward our goal of getting ready for district,” noted the Eagle coach.

“Our offensive line did very well and played tough. Da’vante Williams had an outstanding performance rushing for a hundred and twenty yards against a 5-A defense. And Kade Yarbrough never left the field. He did a good job at quarterback and on defense for us. He came through for us,” commented the Eagle coach.

Musemeche went on to say that Nathan Voisin was solid at defensive end and tight end and Wesley Boss led the offensive line blocking, although the entire line did a great job. Defensively, Curtis Jones joined Voisin as a leader up front and Yarbrough was a key at linebacker.

“We lost Tyler Shields for maybe a couple of weeks with an ankle sprain so we are getting thin at running back right now. We are going to have to work hard in practice this week do more to work on what we do than to scout Dunham and watch film. We had to last week as well. We did not watch film on Dutchtown. We spent time working on what we had to do,” noted Musemeche.

Dutchtown used the double whammy of quarterback Leon Blouin and Effrem Reed to rush behind their big and talented offensive line for 358 yards against the Eagle defense. Blouin also hit on 9 of 15 passes for 115 yards. DHS held a 21-18 edge in first downs.

However, St. John played with pride and mounted a long 11-play, 77-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter to cut into an early 13-0 DHS lead. Junior running back Williams tallied on a 7-yard run and Conner Case hit the PAT to make it a 13-7 game.

Dutchtown came back to take a 20-7 lead and eventually moved to 27-7 before the final period. The two clubs matched touchdown and PAT in the final stanza. Williams scored his second TD of the night on a 9-yard scamper and Case hit his second PAT.

Blouin ran for two scores and passed for another. Reed and backup back Austin Brown scored for the Griffons.

Senior Yarbrough moved to quarterback, playing the position for the first time since middle school, and managed to hit on 4 of 8 passes and 53 yards for the Eagles. However, it was Williams who led the way for the Eagle offense as he rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries and a pair of TDs.

St. John hits the road tomorrow (Friday) night to visit 2-A Dunham School in Baton Rouge. It will be an annual contest between the two football programs that goes back into the 1990s. The hosting Dunham club, one of the school’s youngest in experience in recent years, enters the game with a 2-2 record. After beating SJHS parish and district rival East Iberville in the second week of the season the Dunham team lost in a non-league game to Sumner High and then fell by a 34-16 score Friday to rival Episcopal High in their district opener.

The Tigers will be hungry hosts tomorrow night after being held to only 150 yards offense by Episcopal last week. Musemeche noted that the Tigers have offensive talent at receiver and running back. But, if the Eagles play as hard and tough as they did against Dutchtown Friday night they could take a big win on the road on the eve of a major District 8-A road opener against parish rival White Castle High next week.