St. James proves state title contender credentials with win over Destrehan

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St. James football
(Photo: Stephen Lew)

St. James has been the top-ranked team in our Class 3A rankings for the past few weeks. The Wildcats showed why Friday night in Vacherie.

The Wildcats defeated Class 5A power Destrehan 31-24 in a huge win for the program.

Speaking on The Three Tailgaters Show on 106.1 FM NASH ICON Saturday morning, St. James head coach Robert Valdez did not play the victory down.

“This is a huge win, big for our community, our kids and program,” Valdez said. “To be honest, it is big for River parish football that we are playing these games. These are community rivalries. We pride ourselves of having great football in the River Parishes and that was the case last night. This was bigger than my 100th win last week. Destrehan has always been a storied program. We have history and tradition as well but to be able to beat Destrehan was huge. That is a great program.”

St. James (4-0) was outstanding in all phase in the victory over Destrehan. It was strikingly similar to the New Orleans Saints victory at Seattle. Both the Saints and St. James scored in all three aspects of the game in big victories.

In the kicking game, Taylor Steib blocked a punt and Savion Jones returned it for a touchdown. Alec Mahler booted a 38-yard field goal.

Offensively, Shamar Smith was outstanding at quarterback, both running and passing. He raced 65 yards to put St. James on top early and the Wildcats would never trail. Smith later added a 10-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.

“We retired Corey Webster’s jersey last night,” Valdez said. “He was an excellent quarterback for us and went on to play in the NFL. I see a lot of similarities between Shamar and Corey. Shamar has a high ceiling. He will play at the next level, regardless of what position he plays. He is special.”

Defensively, J’Kory Ester had a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“The more you get kids in tune to understand that there are three phases of the game, the more successful you are going to be,” Valdez said. “We blocked a punt for a score, we kicked a field goal, returned a punt for a score and scored on defense. The kicking game is so important and we work hard on it.”

The Wildcats face another stern test next Friday night at unbeaten Assumption. Can this be a special season that ends in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the Wildcats?

“I think we have a group of kids that buy in,” Valdez said. “We put a lot of work in. They are very focused. They have been together for a long time. They are like family. They are going out there and playing the game and having fun. What makes these guys special is how hard they work and how they believe. Assumption is unbeaten and the schedule is pretty thick. We have a lot of confidence which will help us come playoff time.”

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Jude Young


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As a New Orleans-area native, Jude grew up a fan of all sports and teams in the area. It’s a passion for the games that brought him into the fields of sports broadcasting and journalism. Whether he’s informing, reporting or entertaining, Jude brings his own special flavor to the task at hand. This Jesuit High School and Loyola New Orleans…

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