Griffins know No. 1 St. John comes before homecoming

Peter Silas Pasqua
Dutchtown’s Darrien Batiste, David Lentz and Landon Collins wrap up Thibodaux’s Terry Ausama in the Griffins’ 20-14 last week. Dutchtown hosts No. 1 St. John Friday night for homecoming.

GEISMAR – Dutchtown will face a fourth straight opponent that has been ranked in the LSWA’s polls this week when they host No. 1 St. John of Class 1A Friday night at Griffin Field for the school’s homecoming game.

The Griffins (2-1) of District 6-5A upset No. 4 Thibodaux of Class 5A Friday night 20-14, while St. John of District 8-1A edged University 27-26. Dutchtown is currently ranked No. 9 in unofficial power ratings released by the LHSAA after Week 3 but have not received a vote in the polls thus far this season.

“I feel like we have to beat them if we want to stay on track to get into the playoffs,” Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia said. “I don’t worry about who is favored. Those are things I can’t control. What I care about is winning and stacking up power points and when this thing is all said and done at the end of the year, hopefully we are in the big dance.

“You can’t overlook the No. 1 team in the state of Louisiana in 1A football. St. John has been to the Dome a couple of times and are deep into the playoffs every year. You can have 800 players in uniform on the sidelines but only 11 can get on that field so it doesn’t matter how many kids they have. All that matters is the quality of the 11 kids that they put on that field and they got some players. What class a team is in doesn’t mean anything. When that ball is kicked off, it is football and you better respect every opponent that you play.”

The Griffins defense held a highly potent Thibodaux offense last week to just 14 points behind two key fourth down stops despite surrendering over 350 yards of total offense. They are led by a secondary that features Eric Reid, Marcus Godfrey, Jonathan Darville, Shaquille Lewis and Landon Collins.

“We run the same offense as they do so we should be familiar with it,” Saia said. “They run first and throw second where as the teams we played in the first three weeks threw first and ran second. We will have to stop the running game, stay home and play assignment football because they run a lot of counters and reverses and we have to tackle their backs.”

St. John, under second-year head coach Tut Musemeche, runs out of a Spread Wing T and are led by quarterback Michael Martinez and running back Josh Johnson.

“We have to prepare ourselves, execute a game plan and try to get another win to keep ourselves in the mix,” Saia said. “That is our job. I saw two or three kids that played on both sides of the ball but they didn’t go both ways the whole game. I hope that is something that will be in our favor.”

Dutchtown, which was plagued by turnovers in their first two contests, did not turn the ball over once last week as the ball only touched the sod once. The Griffins are led by junior running Effrem Reed who has rushed for 319 yards on 53 carries. Quarterback Leon Blouin has also rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another, while fullback Troy Lewis carried 15 times for 72 yards a week ago.

“We try to score one more point than our opponent,” Saia said. “That is the objective. We feel like if we can score 21 points, we got a chance to win a good many games. We can’t turn the ball over. We don’t want a lot of three-and-outs. We want to make first downs. We just have to block them.”

St. John runs a multiple defense that returns eight starters from a team that advanced to the quarterfinals a year ago. Linebacker Kade Boudreaux and end Nathan Voisin are the top returnees.

“They are very familiar with our offense so it is going to be interesting to see because both teams are kind of mirror images of each other both offensively and defensively. It is going to come down to which team executes and doesn’t make mistakes. Homecoming is another distraction for us so we have to stay focused on what our job is. Our job is to the win the game and then we will enjoy homecoming.”