The Ville Platte High defensive unit swarms a St. Edmund Blue Jay ball carrier in last Thursday’s homecoming game for the Bulldogs. Ville Platte travels to Mamou tomorrow night for a date with the Demons. Both teams are looking to get their first regular season and District 5-3A win of the 2020 football season. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Looking in a mirror
As the saying goes, to have a twin would be like looking in a mirror.
The same saying can be applied when you take a look at the Mamou High Demon and Ville Platte High Bulldog football programs in 2020. Look at Ville Platte, you see Mamou; look at Mamou and you see Ville Platte.
Coming into their match-up tomorrow night in Mamou, one cannot help but compare the similarities between the two teams. Game time between the two parish schools is set for 7 p.m.
First and foremost, both teams are looking for their first win of the season. Ville Platte is 0-2 on the year, while Mamou is 0-1.
Secondly, both squads lost a ton of athletic seniors off of last year’s team and are forced to play a number of underclassmen in key positions.
Next, both teams have a converted skill player at the quarterback position. For the Bulldogs it is former wide receiver Ernest Roberts and for the Demons it is former running back Jalon Bradley.
Finally, both Ville Platte and Mamou have made the same mistakes in their losses this season.
“When I look at Mamou, I see our team,” stated Ville Platte High head coach Jorie Randle. “We have a lot of similarities in how our season has gone so far. In their last game against Sacred Heart, they were there but just did not make a play. It is the same thing that happened to us against St. Ed’s.”
“A lot of it has to do with the youth both teams have,” Randle continued. “For them it is also about not being able to have the repetitions. But, make no mistake, they are a good football team and I know they will be ready to play us, especially since it is their homecoming.”
Ville Platte will have to do a better job on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the tackling department. Last Thursday, the Bulldogs gave up 454 yards of offense to St. Ed’s in their loss to the Blue Jays.
“We have put a ton of work in on our tackling this week at practice,” said Randle. “I think a lot of that has to do with us not being able to practice that skill during the COVID protocols that were put in place earlier on. If you look across the board, tackling has not been good in high school, college and the pros.”
Offensively, the Ville Platte rushing attack did not get going enough to sustain drives. Almost all of the Bulldog yardage came via the passing game.
“We have to be able to run the ball if we want to have a chance,” commented Randle. “When we are successful on the ground, it feeds into our confidence and our momentum.”
Just like the Ville Platte Bulldogs, the Mamou Demons had a rough outing in their first game of the season. The biggest take away for Mamou head coach Dwight Collins in their loss to Sacred Heart this past Thursday was the number of mistakes made, especially the number of penalties committed by the Demons.
“We just had way too many penalties against Sacred Heart,” stated Collins. “We must have had 15 to 20 penalties called on us in the game. Just the offsides and false start penalties were unbelievable. On top of that, we had blown assignments all over the field. It looked like we had never played football before. Our focus this week is trying to clean all of that up and put guys in the places they need to be to be successful.”
Not everything turned out bad for the Demons last Thursday night. Despite not putting any points on the board, Mamou did collect 267 yards of offense, including 111 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Jalon Bradley was 11 of 19 for 156 yards through the air, another positive sign for Demon offense. According to Collins, after watching the game film, there were players that stood out during the game.
“Some of the guys gave great efforts,” said Collins. “There were some players that jumped out at the coaching staff. Those were the players that played with full effort the entire night. So, we know we have some players in the right spots, now it is about putting other players in the right spot.”
As far as Ville Platte High is concerned, Collins understands that the Bulldogs are on the verge of getting things together.
“Watching them on film, it seems they are a play away here or there,” commented Collins. “They are close to breaking plays offensively. Like us, if they can learn to eliminated the mistakes, they are capable of being a pretty good football team.”