(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, November 07, 2013 10:14 AM
Westlake head football coach Shawn Demeritt pulls no punches about Friday’s matchup with Jennings.
It’s not just another game, it’s a chance to accomplish a goal — the team’s main goal of a District 4-3A championship.
The Rams (5-4, 3-1) can earn a share of the title by beating the Bulldogs (6-3, 4-0).
South Beauregard (6-3, 3-1) can make it a three-way tie for the championship with a victory over Iowa.
“This has been our goal all year, another district title for this program,” Demeritt said. “It’s going to be a great matchup. (These are) two historic programs (with) a lot of history between the two. The district championship has run between these programs for decades, since the ’50s.
“It’s running through them again Friday night.”
Westlake got hot at the right time. After falling to 2-4 after a 20-18 loss to South Beauregard a month ago, the Rams have shut out two teams during a three-game winning streak and are giving up 4.6 points per game in that stretch.
Much of the defensive success has to do with winning the turnover battle. The Rams have been plus-7 in turnovers during their streak.
“They’re physical every year defensively,” Jennings head coach Rusty Phelps said. “They’re creating a lot of turnovers and, when you have turnovers, that’s one less possession you get.
“They’re putting the ball back in the hands of their offense. When you’re winning the turnover battle like that, that’s (more) possessions for your team. It’s a Westlake team. They’re going to play hard.”
The offense hasn’t been bad either. Quarterback Tyler Johnson has given Westlake a true dual-threat and identity, allowing other weapons such as running back Keilynn Fradieu and wide receiver Jacory Washington the freedom to exploit teams.
“You always want versatility on offense,” Demeritt said. “We can throw and run the ball effectively and do what we want to do.
“I give a lot of credit to our staff. They’ve done a great job coaching (Johnson) up.
“(Johnson) has done a great job of taking the coaching and really developing as a quarterback and leader.”
Stopping the high-octane Rams figures to be near the top of Jennings’ to-do list.
“Offensively they do a really good job of distributing to five or six guys,” Phelps said. “They’re a very powerful offense.
“They get a lot of plays because of their fast pace. Not only do they stretch you vertically but they make you work horizontally as well.”
Nuances aside, a Jennings-Westlake match up comes back to one thing: the rivalry and history.
“That’s the way it’s been for many years,” Phelps said. “I’ve been head coach here (at Jennings) for 20 years and this game seems like, with the exception of two or three years, has had playoff and district implications. It’s a good rivalry for both communities. It’s really a great setting for a high school game.”