Varnado hosting Houma Christian

Published 2:24 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

Varnado is back home tonight to face Houma Christian School in a District 8-1A contest.
“They’re 7-1, so it’s another important game, an important week,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “We talked at the beginning of the year that we have the toughest schedule in 1A. With that said, we still have a lot to prove. Playoffs are almost here and at this time of year is, I like playing our best football.”
The Wildcats enter this week with a 4-3 overall record and 2-1 in district play. Varnado lost to West St. John, which is No. 1 in the unofficial LHSAA Class 1A power rankings, last week by the score of 45-0.
Varnado enters this week No. 4 in those same power rankings.
Shaffett said the defense played well for most of last week’s game.
“When you can make a team like West St. John punt, that says a lot because they haven’t punted a lot this year,” Shaffett said. “We have a lot of returning starters, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We’ve had a lot of injuries, but these kids are fighting through. We’re going to continue to fight through injuries and we’re going to continue to fight all the way through the playoffs.”
Offensively, quarterback James Williams has thrown for 605 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also run for a pair of touchdowns.
Shaffett said Williams has played well, but we haven’t seen the best of the signal caller.
“I believe that’s still to come. We need to put him in a spot to be successful early in the game. When he’s successful early in the game, we’re successful,” Shaffett said.
The rushing attack has been balanced between Varnado’s three main ball carriers.
JaDarrell Magee is the team’s leading rusher with 93 carries for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He also has seven catches for 91 yards and a score.
Desmond Harry begins the week with 68 attempts for 348 yards and two touchdowns. Harry leads the team in receiving for receptions and yards. He has caught 14 passes for 210 yards.
Jaccourious Bickham opens the week at 58 carries for 171 yards and three touchdowns. Bickham also has 10 catches for 71 yards.
Shaffett praised the three backs.
“You’ve got Jadarrell, who’s been playing through a high-ankle sprain. When he’s healthy, he’s as good as anybody out there,” Shaffett said. “Desmond Harry has been playing through a lot of injuries this year, but he’s tough. He’s playing through all of that. He’s a fighter and he’s playing week-in and week-out. He won’t quit. He’s going to give you everything he’s got.
“Jaccourious Bickham has been playing some really, really fast football. He’s going full speed and you can’t ask for anything else other than that. He hasn’t let up. As the season has gone on, he’s getting better and better because of his effort. He’s going full speed in practice and he brings that to the game.”
Nine different receivers have caught at least one pass for Varnado.
Armontee Kemp enters with 11 receptions for 99 yards and two touchdowns while Ardaryl McGowan currently has six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Varnado won last year’s matchup, 26-0. This is the third year the teams have been in the same district. The Wildcats have won both meetings. The score two years ago was 41-17.
“Coming in, obviously Varnado is a tough opponent,” Houma Christian coach Chuck Battaglia said. “They’ve got a lot of speed on the edges that we’ll have to contend with. Last week, we had a good outing and we’re just looking to try to carry that momentum over. We haven’t been able to compete with them the last couple years, so hopefully with the momentum we have and the confidence we have, our kids can make it a great game.”
Houma Christian enters this week with a 6-1 overall record and 1-1 in district. The loss was to West St. John, 62-0.
Damien Pennison is the team’s quarterback. This season, he has thrown for 963 yards with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has run for 311 yards on 86 carries and five touchdowns.
Battaglia said Pennison has improved, both at throwing the ball and in his leadership qualities.
Zachariah Trujillo is the team’s running back and plays linebacker. Offensively, he has run for 680 yards on 89 attempts and five touchdowns. Defensively, he has made 77 tackles.
Battaglia said Trujillo is the team’s leading rusher and has been running the ball exceptionally well. Battaglia said Trujillo has been a playmaker and that when they get a lead, the coaches look for him to get the tough yardage and keep the clock moving.
Je’Coire Ward is Houma Christian’s leading receiver with 30 catches for 628 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has also run eight times for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Battaglia said that Ward is the team’s playmaker. He said that anytime the ball is in his hands, something good can happen. Battaglia said that Ward has been making plays each and every game.
Houma Christian’s top defenders include Trujillo, end Justin Medina and tackle Jeremy Bardarson.
Battaglia said Trujillo is the heart and soul of the defense. He also said that Medina and Bardarson on the defensive line have stepped up.