W-M riding Paul to perfection, St. Louis out to end two-game losing streak

Published 12:09 pm Thursday, September 23, 2021

Washington-Marion will be looking to continue its perfect start to the high school football season, while St. Louis will be looking to regain winning form when the teams meet Thursday night at LaGrange’s John J. Mims Stadium in a nondistrict game.

W-M (2-0) has opened the season in style with wins over Northside and Peabody. St. Louis has lost back-to-back one-score games, to Iota and Erath, but head coach Brock Matherne said he likes the way the Saints have looked.

“We’re playing hard and our execution is close,” he said. “It’s just a small thing here or there that’s been keeping us up at night. I love the way we are playing; we still have fight.The challenge this week is simple: find a way to finish the game.”

Matherne said W-M’s team speed and its dynamic running back, Derrick Paul, stand out on film. Paul ran for 162 yards and scored three touchdowns in W-M’s 43-22 win over Peabody last week.

“(Paul) might be the best running back we’ve seen so far,” Matherne said. “Historically, Coach (Jules) Sullen has been a good coach. We will have to lift our energy.”

Matherne said he has seen plenty of positives from his team.

“I like the way we have run the ball and matched that with taking the top off the defense without deep game,” he said. “We have limited mistakes on offense and taken care of the ball. Last week, in the second half, I think we turned a corner on defense, started to find our identity.”

Sullen said his team is starting to gel.

“It is still early in the season and we want to develop a sense of identity on both sides of the ball, but the cohesiveness is starting to come,” he said. “Offensively, we want to be balanced. We want Derrick to run the ball and also to give our quarterback (Justin Thomas) a chance to throw. Defensively we want to apply pressure and have the secondary take away the big play. It is a matter of better understanding our rules on offense and defense as the season goes on.”

Sullen said the Saints have been impressive.

“Matherne is doing a phenomenal job there, adding to their legacy,” he said. They are doing a phenomenal job with the offense and the defense has been good as well.

“The key for us will be making as few mistakes as possible. Of course, special teams is an area where they have excelled and is an area we are going to have to work on. Defensively, we will have to be aware of their offensive formations. Offensively, we will have to focus on converting first downs and know that first downs will lead to touchdowns.”

Paul leads W-M with 344 yards and five touchdowns. St. Louis quarterback James Reina has thrown for 499 yards and six touchdowns.