Tigers offense struggles in scrimmage

Tigers receivers Leondre James and Jaquel Gant jump for a pass looking to catch against St. James’ defenders in the scrimmage Friday night at St. James.

The Donaldsonville High Tigers and the St. James High Wildcats have a long history of rivalry but with the recent district realignment by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) the battle between the two may soon fade out. However the two teams met in a scrimmage Friday in St. James, where the Tigers outscored their former district foe 13-2 in a defensive battle that led to no major offensive production from either team.

Both the Tigers and Wildcats defensive units produced all the scoring in Friday’s bout, however Tigers’ first-year head coach Benny Guilbeaux wasn’t too surprised at DHS’ strong defensive play.

“We have a lot of returners on defense and a lot of them made big plays, but don’t get me wrong we have to be able to move the ball also,” Guilbeaux said.

Sophomore Tyler Brown led the Tigers’ offense at the quarterback position but had a tough time in his debut at the varsity level. The Wildcats’ defense forced Brown to throw two interceptions, fumble once and take a sack in the end zone for a safety.

Brown had promising moments in the game connecting on short passes to junior receiver Jaquel Gant who was able to get some extra yards after the catch.

Later in the day, Brown was substituted for sophomore Stefan Sullivan – another to debut at the varsity level. Sullivan was able to scramble away from a rushing Wildcat defense several times, but the passing game just wasn’t there for the Tigers, despite having Gant and senior Leondre James lining up on the outsides.

As a whole, the Tigers offense dropped a few passes that would normally be for sure yards and Guilbeaux just credits that to nervousness.

“Getting past the nervousness and learning to trust one another, that’s something we tried to establish in spring,” Guilbeaux said. “We tried to build upon that in the summer but now we dressed about 55 guys and a lot of them have never experienced a real varsity situation. So, now we know what we are working with and it’s a decent foundation but we just have to build upon it.”

Guilbeaux said as a whole, St. James is about where the Tigers are with a lot of young guys and trying to rebuild the program. Guilbeaux admitted though that the Tigers “are a little behind schedule.”

For the Wildcats, head coach Dwain Jenkins at times put as many as three freshmen in to play skill positions offensively to try and move the ball.

“We’re trying to find somebody to step up and make that play,” Jenkins said. “We can’t use that as an excuse, we just have to learn from it and continue to grow and hopefully by the time we get to the regular season these freshmen will be playing like sophomores and we can continue to go from there.”