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Wildcats show signs of improvement at scrimmage

ST. JAMES — A new coach, a new quarterback and a new season are bringing new hope to a community that hasn't seen its team win a football game since 2010.

That community nearly packed the stadium for its first look at the 2013 version of the St. James Wildcats Friday in a controlled scrimmage against Donaldsonville.

They saw the Wildcats outscored 14-2, with both Tiger touchdowns scored by the defense off of turnovers.

They saw a defense that shut down Donaldsonville with aggressive, fly to the ball play that resulted in sacks and turnovers and frustration for the Tiger offense.

They saw a freshman quarterback who showed flashes of brilliance, and who would have had a much better day had his receivers not dropped four passes in their hands.

But most of all, they saw a well-organized, competitive football team. And St. James fans haven't seen that for a while.

"The program had fallen so low, we really had to do a lot of things to get the community back involved," first year head coach Dwain Jenkins said. "I know the pressure is on me. I've said it from day one. We had to get the people back behind the program. And sooner or later that's going to pay off for our kids. If the kids keep seeing people showing up at the games and keep giving support, it's going to pay off for us in the end. So what we have to do is to keep working and keep getting better every day."

The Wildcat defense showed some results of that work, forcing a three-and-out on the Tigers first possession, with aggressive play leading to sacks and frustration for the Tiger offense.

"I think our defense is going to be the strength of our football team," Jenkins said. "We've got to keep moving forward. We're trying to change the culture, but people have to understand it's going to take some time."

Freshman quarterback Lowell Narcisse looked great one play and like a freshman quarterback the next. His first carry went for minus-7 yards. One play later, his second carry went for 16 and a first down.

A 30-yard strike down the field fell into wide receiver Fabian Steib's hands, then fell to the ground, something that would be seen again-and-again during the scrimmage.

Jason Favorite picked off Tiger quarterback Tyler Brown on the next series, but another dropped pass ended the Wildcat possession.

The defense forced another Tiger turnover with a sack and a forced fumble, and the offense picked up a couple of first downs with the drive stalling at the 43.

Donaldsonville took the ball on its own 6 -yard line to practice starting deep in their end zone, and it looks like the Tigers may need some more practice as another sack led to a safety and a 2-0 Wildcat lead.

Tiger defensive back Cordell Forsell picked off Narcisse on a flare pass and took it 40 yards for the game's first touchdown. Donaldsonville also scored on a 20 recovery of back up quarterback's Qui han tai Adams fumble.

"We seemed to take turns making mistakes," Jenkins said. "Early on we dropped some balls, we had a couple of turnovers, missed some blocks, messed up a handoff, everyone taking a turn. We got banged up with D'Kwan Sandolph taking a helmet to his thigh, and he's probably our best playmaker. We've got to find some more explosive guys on offense who can make plays, but our defense played extremely well. But the kids keep working hard and playing hard, and that's all we can ask from them."