West St. John tops Ellender at 7-on-7 football camp

In a football tournament geared towards offense, it was a defensive play by West St. John that made the difference in the championship game against Ellender.

In a 15-15 tie, the Rams got an interception that gave them the lead and the momentum as West St. John went on to beat Ellender, 28-15, in the finals of the inaugural Pro Football Combine Camp 7-on-7 Tournament at Thibodaux High's Tiger Stadium on Friday.

The 12-team field started the event in pool play and were seeded in a single-elimination bracket according to their win-loss record.

Besides West St. John and Ellender, the teams competing were Patterson, Thibodaux, Terrebonne, St. Martinville, New Iberia, South Lafourche (two teams), Franklin, Central Lafourche and Northside.

The games were 22 minutes in length with the clock stopping in the final two minutes on an incomplete pass. The games were played on a 40-yard field. The offenses could pick up two first downs to retain possession and plays were over once an offensive player was touched by a defender.

Six points were awarded for touchdowns with a one-point extra point from the 5-yard line or a two-point extra point from the 10. Defensively, teams were awarded three points for an interception and two points for a defensive stop on fourth down.

Ellender reached the finals by beating Patterson, 21-14 in overtime, and the Patriots kept their momentum early in the championship game by taking a 15-7 lead.

West St. John scored a touchdown and converted a two-point extra point to tie the game at 15, then on Ellender's next offensive possession, West St. John came up with an interception and three points for an 18-15 lead.

The Rams added another touchdown and an one-point extra point for a 25-15 lead before another interception by West St. John made it 28-15.

Even though his team came up short, Ellender coach Terry Washington said the work was beneficial and a learning tool for his players.

"We got some work in and we played some quality teams. I thought we did an outstanding job and we did some good things, but we do have some things we need to work on," Washington said. "Conditioning will be a major issue and we knew that coming in, but we competed. I wanted to see us compete and hats off to West St. John, they are an outstanding program, but we are still learning to compete with our kids."

West St. John reached the finals by beating Thibodaux, 32-12, in the semifinals.

Rams coach Robert Valdez said these tournaments are more about mental toughness and seeing which player can still executed at the end of a long day.

"It is always good when you can see some schools you normally don't play and see some different looks. We just try to do what we do and run our offense and defense, but we had great competition. To win the tournament, the first one is real special," Valdez said. "You got to be mentally tough to make a run in these tournaments. You want find the kids that are mentally tough and that can execute when they are tired. At this point, everyone is tired and all that. We are just happy that we were able to stay effective and execute when the elements are against you and you are playing good competition."

The elements and an overtime win in the semifinals worked against Ellender in the finals, but Washington said his players will use the defeat in the finals as motivation through the summer.

"(The Patterson game) was a good game and it took a lot out of us. We used so much energy to win it in overtime. Then we had to comeback and play again and when you are going to play a team like West St. John, you have to bring you ‘A' game," Washington said. "We just fell a little short and we are going to use this as motivation for our summer and carry it into our season. I'm glad they put (the tournament on). It gave us an opportunity to get some good work in. Normally, you have to go to Lafayette, LSU or New Orleans, so it was good to have something like this in the area."

Tournament director Don Rodrigue said he was pleased how things went and got positive feedback from all the teams that participated.

"We are hoping to continue and make it bigger, Everyone that competed got some good work in and all the comments were positive from the coaches," Rodrigue said. "We had some teams from the Lafayette area come in, and they seemed to like what we did here. Everything went well and we just hope to continue with the help of the Orthopedic Sports Specialist of Louisiana."

In the consolation game, Patterson defeated Thibodaux, 23-20.