Vandy, EDW prepare for early-season clash
Fri. August 31, 2012 at 7:32 p.m. | By Chris Singleton/Staff Writer
E.D. White Catholic quarterback Benton Arceneaux (left) and Vandebilt Catholic quarterback Elijah McGuire will lead their teams into today's regular-season opener at Buddy Marcello Stadium in Houma. (Photo by Chris Heller/Abby Tabor/Staff)
Every football rivalry has its share of distractions.
The annual regular season football clash between longtime rivals E.D. White Catholic and Vandebilt Catholic is no exception.
The showdown, which is known for its competitive games and wild fourth quarter finishes, is considered the biggest game of the season for both schools.
But there are plenty of distractions that come with the rivalry, which include non-football related school functions, the usual pregame and postgame friendly trash talk by current and former students and early-season hurricanes.
With Hurricane Isaac affecting the area this week, it has provided another big distraction for the big game week between E.D. White and Vandebilt.
The game was rescheduled for 4 today at Buddy Marcello Stadium in Houma. Stadium gates will open at 2:30 p.m.
It is the second straight year that a tropical system has affected the game. Last season, the threat of Tropical Storm Lee forced school officials to move the game up a day before the storm hit the area.
“E.D. White and hurricanes come together,” Vandebilt coach Brad Villavaso said. “It’s always a problem at the beginning of the season dealing with hurricanes, but the players are used to it. All you can do is do your best if you can play and make sure your kids are safe from the storm.”
Both E.D. White and Vandebilt were closed this week, but it didn’t stop both teams from preparing for the game.
The Cardinals and Terriers each had extended practices on Monday, allowing both teams to get as much work in as possible before they faced the uncertainty surrounding Issac, which made landfall on late Tuesday night. The teams returned to practice on Wednesday.
E.D. White coach Kyle Lasseigne said there have been plenty of off-the-field distractions this week, but he said the Cardinals are still preparing like it is a normal week.
“We’ve been working for months to get to this point, so there is not an excuse for us not to be focused,” Lasseigne said. “I know they are a lot of distractions, but we can’t let the months of preparation be for nothing, so I thought we did a good job of that in Monday’s practice. I know a hurricane is a big deal, but we have some kids who do a good job of focusing. If we do that for the rest of the week, we will be fine.”
Both Lasseigne and Villavaso said it hasn’t been hard to get their kids fired up for the game, mostly because of the intensity of the rivalry between the Cardinals and Terriers.
“It’s a game that’s very easy to get our kids excited for,” Lasseigne said. “They know what kind of rivalry it is. Historically, it’s been a close game almost every year. It’s often that the favorite team doesn’t always win. It’s been back and forth, and it’s always a competitive football game, so I don’t see it being any different this year.”
Villavaso said expects another big clash on Friday. The Cardinals picked up a thrilling 30-28 win over Vandebilt in last year’s game.
“To some people, this is the only game of the year,” said Villavaso, who is entering his second stint as Terriers’ coach. “We get to play them the first week. It’s a lot of excitement to get them to start out the year. It sets the tone for the whole season, so I think our guys are fired up.”
Both Vandebilt and E.D. White were scheduled to play respective exhibitions at the Thibodaux High Jamboree last week, but bad weather cut it short.
Vandebilt was up 7-0 on Assumption before the rest of the event was called in the second half due to lightning, and E.D. White’s scheduled game against Thibodaux was canceled.
Although they didn’t get to play, Lasseigne said the Cardinals are ready for the regular season opener against Vandebilt. They participated in two fall scrimmages held against Riverdale in New Orleans on Aug. 10 and H.L. Bourgeois on Aug. 16.
“I’m glad we did that early scrimmage in New Orleans,” Lasseigne said. “The good thing for us is that we’re not behind as for as actual game time. Losing the jamboree is not as big of deal as it would have been, so I think it was a good thing. I had no problem with canceling the jamboree. Our kids had a really good practice (Monday), and I think we’re ready to start playing for real on Friday.”
Lasseigne said the Cardinals got a chance to watch Vandebilt play against Assumption last week, and he was impressed with the playmakers the Terriers have on offense.
In last year’s game, Vandebilt senior quarterback Elijah McGuire rushed for 250 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns against the Cardinals.
“McGuire is a threat,” Lasseigne said. “He’s got the ball on every play in his hands. That’s where our focus is defensively. Vandebilt’s defense also runs to the ball really well. It’s going to be key for our offense line to maintain so that we can move the football and keep it out of their hands.”
Villavaso said both teams know each other very well, and he expects another four-quarter battle.
“They do a good job on both sides of the ball,” Villavaso said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us, and I think our kids are looking forward to that challenge. I’m just hoping that we play the game on time, and I’m hoping we’ve got a decent field to play it on. I hope there are no more outside distractions so the best team will win.”