St. James uses big plays to win at improved Archbishop Shaw, 37-27

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MARRERO, La. – There were nothing but winners at Joe Zimmerman Stadium Saturday afternoon.

A warm day without a cloud in the sky, a pair of high school football teams provided a ray of sunshine for hard hit communities, as a whole.

Archbishop Shaw and St. James played a football game in Marrero on just a few days notice.

That, in itself, was a win, a real accomplishment, based on the damage done to the Vacherie community. That Shaw was willing to play and host was a win as well.

In the game, St. James scored twice on defense and once on special teams in a 37-27 victory over the Eagles. Top recruit Shazz Preston added a pair of touchdowns.

“We came out here with some grit, we came out here with some energy,” Preston said. “We just wanted to come play. We just wanted to get back on the field. We were ready to get after it. We just wanted it for our community. We came out here with a chip on our shoulder.”

Marquell Walker had the distinction of scoring on special teams and defense.

“It felt good,” Walker said. “I went out of town for the hurricane, got back and it was good to play. It was fun scoring a pair of touchdowns.”

Daniel Jupiter had 18 carries for 123 yards for the Wildcats while Marquell Bergeron completed 14-of-20 passes for 118 yards and a score.

St. James jumped on top immediately.

On the opening series, Shaw went three-and-out and the Wildcats blocked the ensuing punt and Marquell Walker picked it up and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 10:23 to play in the opening quarter.

It took just one play for Shaw to get even as track star David Kency broke an inside run 90 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-7 with 5:57 to play in the opening quarter.

The Wildcats took the lead just before halftime, driving 46 yards in eight plays with Marquell Bergeron hitting LSU commit Shazz Preston with a one-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-7 lead with 16 seconds left in the half.

On the first play of the third quarter, Preston broke free on a 58-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 20-7 lead after the try for two failed.

The Eagles responded with an seven play, 80-yard drive with Stephen Banford connecting with Kency on a 31-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 20-14 with 9:09 to play in the third quarter.

St. James then mounted a 10 play, 49-yard drive with Alec Mahler nailing a 33-yard field goal to extend the lead to 23-14 with 5:24 to play in the third quarter.

On the next possession, St. James appeared to get a stop but roughed the punter, giving Shaw new life. The Eagles took total advantage, driving 80 yards in eight plays with Banford connecting with Kency on a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 23-21 with 1:26 to play in the third quarter.

The St. James defense then came through with a sack of Banford, who fumbled and Walker scooped it up and scored from seven yards out, his second touchdown of the game, to make it 30-21 with 8:33 to play in the game.

The defense struck again when Cyler Christmas picked off a tipped pass from Banford and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to make it 37-21 with 4:09 to play in the game.

Shaw continued to battle, driving 80 yards in eight plays with Banford hitting Jayce LaCava with a 10-yard touchdown pass. The try for two failed, leaving St. James up 37-27.

The Wildcats recovered the ensuing onside kick and were able to expire the clock to secure the victory.

“Hats off to St. James for helping us make it happen,” Shaw coach Tommy Connors said. “I think both teams got better today. A lot of effort went into pulling it off. Both teams played hard. They made a few more big plays than us. You’ve got to win two of the three phases. We only won one. There’s bright spots. We looked a little rusty. Limiting those mistakes is the key to getting better.”

Banford completed 17-of-26 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns with an interception while Kency was terrific with 14 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown, six catches for 78 yards and two scores and a 67-yard kickoff return, accounting for 280 total yards.

Archbishop Shaw did it right.

The school opted not to charge anyone to attend the game and was a gracious host.

Wildcats coach Robert Valdez summed up the afternoon perfectly.

“If just for a couple of hours, we came out here and had a chance to get away from reality and not think about recovery, not think about damage, not think about everything that happened in the storm,” Valdez said. “We made some mistakes but we played some ball. We’re thankful to Shaw for welcoming us. This is special. Our kids need this. It’s exciting just to play and to come here and win.”

St. James was able to play with some its helmets courtesy of Jennings High School and its headsets courtesy of Mandeville.

It was mankind at its best.

Shaw accommodated St. James. Jennings accommodated St. James. Mandeville accommodated St. James. Shaw accommodated fans in free fashion. St. James accommodated its suffering community.

The Wildcats continue to abide by the moniker attached to the program courtesy of the late Rick Gaille, its former coach who worked with us at CrescentCitySports.com.

That moniker is T.H.D.E., which stand for Tradition, Honor, Discipline, Excellence.

On this day, those principals were upheld by Valdez, his Wildcats and the St. James community and by Connors, his Eagles and the Archbishop Shaw community.

FINAL
St. James 7 7 9 14 — 37
Shaw 7 0 14 6 — 27

Scoring:
1st Qtr.
St. James—Marquell Walker, 28-yard return of blocked punt (Alec Mahler kick)
Shaw—David Kency, 90-yard run (Louis Weaver kick)

2nd Qtr.
St. James—Shazz Preston, 1-yard pass from Marquell Bergeron (Alec Mahler kick)

3rd Qtr.
St. James—Shazz Preston, 58-yard run (run failed
Shaw—David Kency, 31-yard pass from Stephen Banford (Louis Walker kick)
St. James—Alec Mahler, 33-yard field goal
Shaw—David Kency, 24-yard pass from Stephen Banford (Louis Walker kick)

4th Qtr.
St. James—Marquell Walker, 7-yard return of fumble (Alec Mahler kick)
Shaw—Jayce LaCava, 10-yard pass from Stephen Banford (pass failed)

STATISTICS

First Downs:
St. James 12, Shaw 15

Penalties:
St. James 9 for 90 yards, Shaw 4 for 40 yards

Sacks:
St. James 1, Shaw 1

Turnovers:
St. James 0, Shaw 2

Rushing Yards:
St. James 203, Shaw 141

Passing Yards:
St. James 118, Shaw 233

Total Yards:
St. James 321, Shaw 374

Individual Rushing:
St. James—Daniel Jupiter 18 carries for 123 yards, Shazz Preston 1 carry for 58 yards, Kaden Williams 7 carries for 23 yards, Marquell Bergeron 7 carries for -1 yard

Shaw—David Kency 14 carries for 145 yards and 1 touchdown, David Nguyen 1 carry for 1 yard, Stephen Banford 3 carries for -3 yards

Individual Passing:
St. James—Marquell Bergeron 14-of-20 for 118 yards and 1 touchdown

Shaw—Stephen Banford 17-of-26 for 233 yards and 3 touchdowns, 1 interception

Individual Receiving:
St. James—Kaden Williams 5 catches for 38 yards, Zaylen Brown 1 catch for 35 yards, Kobi Brown 4 catches for 30 yards, Shazz Preston 4 catches for 15 yards and 1 touchdown

Shaw—David Kency 6 catches for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns, Jayce LaCava 3 catches for 53 yards and 1 touchdown, Michael Williams 4 catches for 51 yards, Clayton Robinson 2 catches for 30 yards, Justin LeBlanc 2 catches for 21 yards

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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