The St. James football team (3-2) is will face their toughest challenge of the season when they host St. Clair for Homecoming on Friday night.
The Tigers come into the game with three straight wins, while St. Clair had their first loss of the season last week against Union 36-14. St. James head coach Josh Rodriguez had a couple keys that he was able to take away from that loss last week that he and and his team can use to their advantage.
"Union does have some big boys that were able to stalemate St. Clair at the line of scrimmage and kind of stifle their run game a little bit," said Rodriguez. "On the offensive side, Union was able to move the ball in the air, which other teams hadn't been able to do with much success. That opened up the running lanes for them too. We'll have to do a good job of completing passes and getting them out of the box so we can run the ball."
The Bulldogs' biggest offensive weapon is Tim Hoffman. The St. Clair quarterback can do a lot of damage on the ground and then work off of that running game to break a big play through the air. Coach Rodriguez is impressed with what he's seen on film.
"He's a big kid and he runs hard," said the St. James head coach. "He runs hard and when you're that big, kids just bounce off of you...you're not going to take him down with one person or tackle him above the waist, you have to gang tackle him and have people around his ankles to take him down."
The key to victory for St. James is winning at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they're going to need to succeed at the point of attack and get their running game moving.
"We're going to have to be very efficient with our double teams and attacking the linebackers with our extra backs and staying on our blocks longer," said coach Rodriguez. "That's one of the things that we've done pretty well the last few weeks, staying on our blocks, but this will obviously be the biggest test we've had against the strength of their defense.
"They do defend the run very well, they're very aggressive," continued the Tiger head coach. "They're probably the biggest and strongest team we've played. So we'll see how big and strong we are and that probably determine if we have success running the ball."
Outside of line play, one of the biggest factors in the game is focus and energy levels. With big rivalry games and all the excitement of Homecoming, the Tigers will need to be sure they keep calm and play smart for four quarters.
"We'll have to stay focused the whole week leading up to the game and not get caught up in all the Homecoming festivities and not got distracted by all the stuff that's going on and making sure that we stay focused on doin gour jobs," said coach Rodriguez. "It doesn't matter what opponent is out there, it's just another game and we have to do what we have to do to win."