Wildcats at home tonight, playing Albany

Published 9:03 am Friday, September 1, 2017

Varnado’s Wildcats begin the regular season tonight with a contest against the Albany Hornets at home with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
“Right now, we’re focused on it’s the first game of the season, coming in and playing good ball,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “It’s early in the year. We want those power points. You’re playing against a very good Albany team and when you play a team like that, you’ve got to play without mistakes. We can’t afford any mistakes or anything like that, so even though you’re going in week one, you’re playing a team that’s a playoff-caliber team. It’s going to be a tough game and hopefully we’re prepared and ready for week one early.”
Varnado defeated Bogalusa, 28-0, in last Friday’s Washington Parish Jamboree at Franklinton.
The running game was one of the keys to the Wildcats’ success.
Desmond Harry ran for 88 yards and a touchdown. Jaccourious Bickham ran for 41 yards and a touchdown. JaDarrell Magee had 33 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards to go with a touchdown.
James Williams threw for 41 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought we blocked well on the line and it opened up some big holes and we were able to make some big plays,” Shaffett said. “Desmond ran the ball well, our line blocked really well and JaDarrell does a good job running. We’ve got several running backs that all contribute, so we except to be able to run ball. We’re pretty good up front, so we should be able to run the ball.”
Defensively, the Wildcats were solid. In addition to the shutout, the team forced two defensive turnovers on interceptions by Armontee Kemp. Kemp brought one back for a touchdown. Cody Phelps recovered a fumble that led to a Wildcats’ touchdown.
“So far, I’m excited about the bunch we have on defense,” Shaffett said. “So far, they’ve stepped up and done a good job. The thing is, the guys we lost last year were consistent. We could have them week-in and week-out and you knew they were going to be there week-in and week-out.
“Right now, the big test is, can we play good like we did last Friday and the Friday before — can we play that this week? We’re going to see how consistent we are and if we’re consistent, I think we’ve got a good shot of having a great year.”
Albany enters this week after coming up short to Salmen in jamboree play last week, 7-6.
The Hornets began last season, 9-0, but lost to Class 3A state runner-up Amite in the final regular season game and then in the first round of the playoffs to Carroll.
“We’re replacing a very good senior class, the most successful senior class that’s gone through the high school, but we have a good amount returning,” Albany coach Blane Westmoreland said. “We’re breaking in a new quarterback. We replace an SEC talent (defensive back Chyenne LaBruzza is playing for Tennessee). We’ve got some holes to fill, but we feel good.
“We return all of our offensive linemen and our offensive backfield. We’re happy with where we are. We defeated St. Michael in the scrimmage and lost to Salmen in the jamboree. We decided to go for two in the end and came up short. We’ve got our work cut out this week because Varnado is very talented.”
Jackson Fazio, who played free safety, wide receiver and wingback for the Hornets last year, is the quarterback. He replaces Skylar Lehmann.
“(Fazio) played last year for us,” Westmoreland said. “He’s an athlete. He took the reins in the spring and won the competition. He’s done an outstanding job for us.”
The running backs are Kamryn Mayers, Jewel Rheams and Brad Lewis.
The wide receiver is Chase Robertson.
Albany’s top defenders are linebacker Casey Thompson, safety Kylin Sexton, free safety Tyree Calahan and lineman Latrell Alexander.