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Attitude, work ethic impress St. John head coach

Staff Report

St. John head coach Eric Holden might not have rejoiced over the outcome of his team’s season opener last week, but it brought him optimism about what may lie ahead for the Eagles.

The second-year mentor will bring his team to Baton Rouge for action against Class 5A foe Belaire one week after St. John fell, 53-27, against Grand Lake in Jennings.

The Eagles went to the locker room with a 46-6 deficit, but the three touchdowns in the second half showed Holden something he had been wanting to see more from his young squad.

“The first half of the game was a matter of “us looking at us,” coupled with the first-game jitters we normally see between fall scrimmages and jamborees,” he said. “But in the second half, we calmed down, did a little better offensively in, and we didn’t quit.”

Improvement on running the ball figured as the biggest takeaway in the game for the Eagles, but Holden sees potential for his team to clean up in those areas before the start of District 9-1A action.

St. John senior wide receiver Joseph Schlatre (8) looks for an opening past Grand Lake as teammates Peyton Dardenne (52), Maddox Bennett (2), Jack Marcantel (14) and Braxton Whittenberg try to fend off the Hornet defense.

Senior Joseph Schlatre, who had impressed Holden in preseason, played to his potential when he led the ground attack with 13 carries for 168 yards, two touchdowns and one interception return.

Teammate Nick Daigle finished the game with two carries for 78 yards and a TD off a 65-yard scamper.

St. John allowed only one touchdown in the second half, another aspect that impressed Holden.

“It was a tale of two halves,” he said. “I thought they pulled out starters in the second half, but they were in there most of the second half.”

Holden hopes the Eagles can spread their second-half momentum across four quarters when they face Belaire, which will seek its first a win after Central routed the Bengals 59-6 in opening week action.

St. John edged Belaire 10-8 in last year’s meeting for one of its two victories of the 2019 season.

“We’ve got a lot of work in front of us and we need to clean up some stuff,” Holden said.

The sky is the limit for the Eagles if his players maintain the same attitude that they showed in the first days after the game against Grand Lake.

“For the first time since being here, I had a player apologize for not doing his job after he saw the game on film the other night,” Holden said. “That’s what happens in good programs – they spend their time off watching what they did and want to do better. That’s the attitude I want from this team.”