Last Modified: Friday, September 06, 2013 4:53 PMSam Houston High will be on a mission to turn the tide in its rivalry with St. Louis Catholic, as the Broncos will attempt to end their streak of four consecutive losses to the Saints at 7 p.m. today at Cougar Stadium.
Getting the season started on the right foot will be a priority for both teams. Sam Houston finished last season with a 2-8 record, while St. Louis finished 5-6, losing in the first round of the playoffs to Neville.
“It’s not everything, but it’s extremely important for our guys, in particular in overcoming adversity,” Sam Houston head coach Vaughn Eggleston said of the first game. “We’ve struggled the last two years in trying to find our identity and this game is important for that.”
Both teams suffered losses in tight games at jamborees last week. Iowa beat St. Louis 13-12 and Sulphur edged Sam Houston 14-12 in the Lake Area Jamboree.
Junior wingback Dekeinen Francois led the way for the Saints offense, amassing 28 yards on seven carries. Quarterback Jack Boyer scored on 2-yard touchdown run, but left the game with an injury. He was listed by St. Louis as the probable starter for tonight’s game.
“We found out a lot (in the preseason),” said St. Louis assistant coach Tommy Johns. “We have some young, inexperienced guys that are playing right now and we’re moving some people around. We’re still in the learning process right now, but we’ve been improving every week.”
St. Louis kicker Cullen Richardson also hit two field goals.
“They do such a great job of everybody on defense doing their job every play,” Eggleston said. “Offensively, they do a great job of ball control, play calling and utilizing their skills. They always have good punters and kickers and this year is no exception.”
Sam Houston’s jamboree loss was in large part the product of two big plays by Sulphur. The Broncos’ defense gave up a 44-yard touchdown run and the special teams unit gave up a 75-yard punt return touchdown.
The Broncos scored on their opening drive, led by quarterback Dustin Duhon and a 98-yard kickoff return by senior Cliff Reid.
“(The jamboree) told us that we need to do a much better job of overcoming the small adversity that goes on during games, Eggleston said. “We’ve addressed that. Hopefully they understand what we want from them. We learned that it’s going to take all three parts of the game — offense, defense and special teams — for us to be successful. We’ve addressed that also.”
Eggleston added that the Sam Houston offense would focus on getting players in the right formation with appropriate timing.
“They’re running a new offense this year,” Johns said. “They keep you honest with a lot of motions and things like that to try to trick you, so we’ve got to be very disciplined in what we do defensively. They’ve got quite a few weapons out there.”
That offense will go up against a St. Louis defense that returns three starters from last season’s squad, all in the secondary.
“We graduated the entire front and both linebackers,” St. Louis head coach Mike Johns said. “How we respond and come around in these two areas will be a key to how well we do on defense.”
The Saints will likely have athletes playing on both sides of the ball this season.
“We have not really had to do that around here in the past, but you do what you have to do,” Tommy Johns said. “We have been pleased with the way the players have responded to that. They seem to be ready for the new challenges.”
Eggleston said he expects a close game and said the result may come down to which team can make plays on special teams.