WATSON – The Live Oak football team got back in the win column last week against Bonnabel.
Now the Eagles get a chance to carry that momentum with a road test against St. Helena. The teams square off at 7 p.m. Friday in Greensburg.
“It’s the first time we’ve been on a bus for the varsity since we went to Shreveport (for the playoffs) in November,” Live Oak coach Blane Westmoreland said. “Granted, it’s a 30-minute ride, but you’re going to have a small-town atmosphere. Everyone in Greensburg is going to be at the game. There’s going to be a lot of people there. I fully expect our fanbase to travel well with it being just right up the road, but it’s a little different. There’s going to be, I think, a very, very big crowd for this game with our communities being so close. It’s a different feel with their guys, so it’s something we’re going to talk about and we’re going to try to get the kids ready for in meetings and everything, but it should be an early precursor to what these guys are going to see there later in the season when we head down the road to Ascension Parish.”
Live Oak (2-1) quarterback Sawyer Pruitt went 23-for-36 for 230 yards while connecting with seven receivers, while Blake Rosenthal rushed for three touchdowns and Braden Jones ran for 72 yards.
“The quarterback was understanding what we wanted and what we’re asking of him and everything, and he did a lot of quality things, a lot of good things, throughout the night,” Westmoreland said. “The running backs, we had a number of those get carries Thursday, so you saw a snippet of what this can be.
“There’s still plenty of areas where we need to improve and be better,” Westmoreland said. “There were a couple dropped passes we’ve got to eliminate. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. The first drive, we stalled out. I think we turned it over on downs one time. We can’t have that. We’ve got to be able to move the ball and take time off the clock. That’s one thing a lot of people don’t realize. Yes, I guess it’s the quintessential Air Raid (offense), but you can still control time of possession heavily in your favor if you do it right. That’s something that we’re going to focus on this week is be up-tempo, but also be to the point where we’re trying to control the clock.”
The Live Oak defense held Bonnabel in check, with the Bruins’ lone touchdown coming on a pass late in the game.
“Another good week,” Westmoreland said of the Live Oak defensive effort. “The guys did really good. We had a coverage bust, miscommunication in the end, which led to seven for them, but the guys flew to the ball and made some very good plays in the secondary.”
“There were a couple of times where I felt like we missed some tackles that we shouldn’t have,” Westmoreland continued. “Against better teams, they’re going to make you miss and make you pay, so it’s something we’re going to focus on this week, definitely some tackle circuits.”
St. Helena is 0-3 with losses to Sumner (41-0), West Harrison, Miss. (47-46) and Amite (27-6).
“I have a lot of respect for what that program has done over the last few years, being in the Dome,” Westmoreland said. “They’ve put a number of kids at the next level, so it’s going to be a test Friday night.”
Westmoreland said the Hawks are balanced on offense using a rotation at quarterback.
“We’ve seen a number of quarterbacks on film,” Westmoreland said. “I just don’t know if they’re in a quarterback competition or if somebody’s gone out or what, but they’ve played a number of quarterbacks, all of which are very good, so we’re going to have to be prepared for that.
“Speed-wise, (they have) a couple of receivers (who are) kind of rangy, can go get it, go down the field,” Westmoreland continued. “We saw that on their film with Amite. They matched up well with Amite. They were down in the red zone a couple of times, just turned the ball over. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
One of the challenges for the Live Oak defense will be keeping up with the Hawks’ personnel packages.
“They rotate a number of guys in,” Westmoreland said. “It’s different when they’ve got two new receivers in. They’ll run in two new receivers and a quarterback, and the old quarterback will go to receiver, then he’ll slide to tailback or H-back, so it’s just going to have to be communication, knowing where those guys are, knowing who is where, who’s in the game. The coaching staff’s going to have to do a good job of communicating, and the kids on the field are going to have to do a good job of seeing who is back there and where they’re lined up.”
Westmoreland said the Hawks’ defensive approach isn’t complicated.
“Their philosophy, what it looks like on film is ‘I’m better than you, and we’re going to get after you,’” Westmoreland said. “That’s going to present challenges for our guys. We’re still growing up on the offensive front. Once again, it seems like I say this every week, they’re going to have to grow up and get ready and protect our quarterback. When you can protect him, he can do a lot of special things. These receivers can do some good things. We’ve just got to be able to protect him again this week.”