West St. John rides running game for first trip to Dome since 2011

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EDGARD – After its three-touchdown lead was trimmed to nine points in the final 30 seconds of the first half, West St. John needed an answer.

The Rams got one from their two-headed running game, and now they’re running all the way to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the first time in six years after a 34-18 victory over Logansport in a Class 1A semifinal here Friday night.

The game was seen live on Crescent City Sports (watch the full replay here).

West St. John (11-2), the top seed in the 1A bracket, advances to play Kentwood in an all-southeast Louisiana showdown to open the Allstate Sugar Bowl LHSAA Prep Classic Thursday at noon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Sophomore Kylan Duhe rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns and junior Niko Davis had 126 yards and two scores as the Rams rolled up 415 total yards.

“We believe in pounding the ball,” said West St. John coach Brandon Walters, who will join his former bosses, Laury Dupont and Robert Valdez, in leading a WSJ team to the Dome.

The Rams seemed ready to coast to victory after scoring on three of their first four possessions and forcing a pair of Tiger turnovers. WSJ had the ball and a 21-0 lead in the final minute of the first half, but the defending state champion Tigers – who came in with a 27-game winning streak – had a responsive answer.

Two-way Tigers standout John Stephens Jr. provided the answer. He intercepted a screen pass and returned it 50 yards for the first touchdown to make it 21-6.

Three plays after WSJ fumbled the snap trying to kneel out the clock, Stephens caught a 6-yard pass from Dalton Shaw with four seconds left in the half, and suddenly, it was a 21-12 game.

With momentum lost, West St. John received the second-half kickoff. After three runs netted nine yards, Walters went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Ram 39, and Davis converted on a 17-yard run.

Moments later, the Rams had fourth-and-7 at the Logansport 41, and Davis dragged a slew of Tiger tacklers for a 19-yard gain to the 22.

Three plays later, Duhe finished the 12-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to make it a 28-12 game.

“We wanted to come out there and let them know that those 12 points, we kind of gave them,” Walters said. “We wanted to get out there and let them know we were going to continue to do what we did successfully in the first half.”

After Logansport pulled within 28-18 with 3:08 to play, West St. John got the football after the on-side kick did not go 10 yards. Five plays later, Davis’ 21-yard run started the party on the home side of the stadium.

The Rams will make their ninth trip to the Dome, but their first since 2011.

“For the past two years, we thought we were right there,” Walters said, “and now we’re a step closer to our dreams.”

West St. John is seeking its first state title since winning back-to-back crowns in 2003-04.

West St. John rides running game for first trip to Dome since 2011

EDGARD – After its three-touchdown lead was trimmed to nine points in the final 30 seconds of the first half, West St. John needed an answer.

The Rams got one from their two-headed running game, and now they’re running all the way to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the first time in six years after a 34-18 victory over Logansport in a Class 1A semifinal here Friday night.

The game was seen live on Crescent City Sports.

West St. John (11-2), the top seed in the 1A bracket, advances to play Kentwood in an all-southeast Louisiana showdown to open the Allstate Sugar Bowl LHSAA Prep Classic Thursday at noon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Sophomore Kylan Duhe rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns and junior Niko Davis had 126 yards and two scores as the Rams rolled up 415 total yards.

“We believe in pounding the ball,” said West St. John coach Brandon Walters, who will join his former bosses, Laury Dupont and Robert Valdez, in leading a WSJ team to the Dome.

The Rams seemed ready to coast to victory after scoring on three of their first four possessions and forcing a pair of Tiger turnovers. WSJ had the ball and a 21-0 lead in the final minute of the first half, but the defending state champion Tigers – who came in with a 27-game winning streak – had a responsive answer.

Two-way Tigers standout John Stephens Jr. provided the answer. He intercepted a screen pass and returned it 50 yards for the first touchdown to make it 21-6.

Three plays after WSJ fumbled the snap trying to kneel out the clock, Stephens caught a 6-yard pass from Dalton Shaw with four seconds left in the half, and suddenly, it was a 21-12 game.

With momentum lost, West St. John received the second-half kickoff. After three runs netted nine yards, Walters went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Ram 39, and Davis converted on a 17-yard run.

Moments later, the Rams had fourth-and-7 at the Logansport 41, and Davis dragged a slew of Tiger tacklers for a 19-yard gain to the 22.

Three plays later, Duhe finished the 12-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run to make it a 28-12 game.

“We wanted to come out there and let them know that those 12 points, we kind of gave them,” Walters said. “We wanted to get out there and let them know we were going to continue to do what we did successfully in the first half.”

After Logansport pulled within 28-18 with 3:08 to play, West St. John got the football after the on-side kick did not go 10 yards. Five plays later, Davis’ 21-yard run started the party on the home side of the stadium.

The Rams will make their ninth trip to the Dome, but their first since 2011.

“For the past two years, we thought we were right there,” Walters said, “and now we’re a step closer to our dreams.”

West St. John is seeking its first state title since winning back-to-back crowns in 2003-04.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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