Trojans’ foe looks familiar

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

FERRIDAY, La. &045; As Ferriday head coach James McFarland began gameplanning the first-round playoff contest against West St. John, he felt as though he had been time warped to last week.

A shifty, quick running back. A quality fullback who shoulders the ground load. An efficient quarterback that has racked up nearly 1,000 yards passing.

McFarland wanted to know who the practical joker was in giving him a copy of Vidalia’s statistics and not the Rams’ (10-1).

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Sorry, Mac. No prank here for today’s 7 p.m. kickoff for Edgar, La.

&uot;They’re similar in the fact that both are good teams with a lot of skill people,&uot; McFarland said. &uot;Vidalia has got a team that could match up with anybody in (Class) 2A. But they’re much bigger than Vidalia.&uot;

Therein lies the rub. District 10-2A champ and No. 2 seed West St. John is strikingly parallel to the No. 3 Vikings.

Junior running back Patrick Jackson was an All-Stater as a sophomore and figures to be one again with his current numbers of 1,189 yards on 133 attempts and 16 touchdowns.

His partners in crime in the backfield are fullback Quinn Johnson, an early LSU commitment, and quarterback Josh Lumar, who was 61 of 117 in the regular season with 11 touchdowns for 997 yards.

&uot;We can throw it well at times, but we feed off our running game,&uot; Rams head coach Laury Dupont said. &uot;Much of that is attributed to the offensive line. The good thing about our club is it’s not one person.&uot;

Although with a 6-7, 270-pound prospect on both sides of the line, it seems like it could be.

Tyson Jackson, who chose LSU in the spring over the likes of UCLA, Florida and Auburn, is hard to overlook no matter what side of the ball he lines up on.

For a team that lacked a lot of heart and aggression in a 61-6 drubbing to Vidalia last Friday, McFarland needs his Trojans (4-6) to find a reason to be motivated today.

&uot;We have to play excellent all the way around,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s another game for us. There’s history there, but with us not knowing a lot of that, it’s just another team. It’s win or go home.&uot;

Winning is a facet of football the Rams are very familiar with this season. Stacking the deck with a tough non-district schedule that included Parkview Baptist, St. James, St. Charles and Patterson &045; all well respected programs &045; West St. John grew up quickly.

&uot;Working with the power ratings you’re starting to see better teams playing better teams,&uot; Dupont said. &uot;Combine that with our program being very successful in the past years and you want to play the (upper echelon) squads.

The Rams only loss came against the Eagles from Baton Rouge, Class 3A’s No. 1 team for the entire season and now into the playoffs.

&uot;We learned a lot in the pre-district (schedule) about our kids and their character,&uot; Dupont said. &uot;We didn’t play one team that wasn’t undefeated heading into the games.&uot;

With Parkview being the exception, no team all year put up more than two touchdowns on the Rams. When teams did score it was with West St. John’s ones already on the sidelines.

That is of great concern for a Trojans’ offense that failed to open up room for Theotis Cummings and Montago Tennessee to get loose last week.

Ferriday quarterback Scotty Cage was a tattered soul after being planted several times by Vidalia’s Hannibal Yearby.

&uot;We’ve done things to get (Cage) out of the pocket,&uot; McFarland said. &uot;I don’t want him to be a sitting target back there. We need to get him moving to give us a chance to be successful.&uot;

The Trojans also need their undivided attention on the task at hand. Getting pummeled by your biggest rival is not easy to throw out, but for the sake of the postseason Ferriday has no choice.

&uot;That loss is behind us. There’s not anything we can do about it,&uot; McFarland said. &uot;We can do something about this week. These kids forgive and forget quickly. We feel blessed to be alive at this point. There are not a lot of teams playing now.&uot;

This marks the fifth time since McFarland took over the program that the Trojans are playing into November.

Last season, Ferriday made it further than any Louisiana-area team. With Tyrrence Taylor and a beat-up Brennan Smith in the backfield, the Trojans were two steps away from the Superdome before losing to Riverside Academy.

They now return to southeast Louisiana, hoping to change some of that fortune.

&uot;I hope we can get to that ultimate goal&uot; of winning a state championship, Dupont said. &uot;I’m not saying we will at this point, but we’re healthy enough to make a run.

&uot;We’re excited and we know our fans are too, but we’re not taking Ferriday lightly. We’re well aware of the tradition they have.&uot;