ST. JAMES — The Brusly Panthers cruised to their sixth win of the season as they got out to a quick start to defeat the St. James Wildcats in St. James Friday night.
Head Coach Erik Willis credited his senior leadership for winning the game.
“The seniors came out ready to play and they were the key to getting us this quality win at a place like St. James. We challenged them to start fast and they did,” Willis said.
Brusly scored less than two minutes into the game with a 2-yard run by senior quarterback Jay Christophe.
On their next drive, the Panthers scored on a 14-yard run by Carlsel Alexander. St. James fought back with a score of their own with a 6-yard pass from quarterback D'Kawon Sandolph to Taylor Dennis. The Wildcats would miss their PAT, making the score 14-6.
Brusly held St. James scoreless in the second quarter, while Alexander scored his second touchdown on another 14-yard run. Christophe expanded the score, throwing his first touchdown pass of the game with a 10-yard strike to DiMario Jackson, making it 28-6 at halftime.
After gaining a 22-point halftime lead, Willis had the task of keeping his team focused on the second half.
“Refocus. That’s what I told them to do. If you want to be a good football team you have to be able to refocus and I think our kid’s did a great job of doing that,” said Coach Willis on what he told the team at halftime to finish strong.
The team did exactly that.
The Panthers scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter putting the score up to 42-6, scoring on a 3-yard run by Christophe and a 44-yard pass from Christophe to Khawaston Adkins.
In the fourth quarter, Brusly traded scores with St. James as the Wildcats scored their first points of the half with an 18-yard run, and successful 2-point conversion, by Sandolph, making it 42-14. But Brusly scored quickly afterward with a 7-yard run by Blayze Olano, making the score 49-14.
St. James answered back with 34-yard pass by Sandolph to Ashton Adams and a Sandolph run converting the 2-point play.
After a long kick return, Brusly set up a 2-yard run by Blayze Olano, but failed on the extra point pushing the score up to 55-22.
Willis said that the performance of senior quarterback Jay Christophe, who was responsible for four of the Panthers’ touchdowns with two rushing and two passing scores, was impressive and has been impressive all season.
“Jay has just been doing a great job of doing what he is capable of and just leading the team,” he said.
The Panthers are in the thick of the playoff hunt in class 3A.
As far as getting better each week and approaching the playoffs, Coach Willis said that as the playoffs approach, the team is getting better each week through their preparation.
“It is new territory for Brusly High. We are a good team and a lot of teams are out to get us. We have to stay focused and we have to prepare,” he said.
Brusly expects to get better on Friday as they take on defending state 3A champions St. Charles at home for their week 8 matchup on October 19.