Tra’Vontae Booker is no easy assignment for any team that take the field against East Feliciana.
This week, he’s Ruston’s problem.
Booker, a lineman committed to UL Lafayette, has been a force on both the offensive and defense lines for East Feliciana and his size makes him a factor Friday night in Ruston.
“They’ve got some good size,” Ruston coach Brad Laird said, adding the Tigers have another defensive lineman of comparable size to Booker’s 6-foot-4, 320 pounds.
Ruston knows the threat of that kind of size on the line well, having just seen it last week in Neville’s Rashard Lawrence, one of the state’s top defensive tackles sporting an abundance of scholarship offers from schools in all Power Five conferences.
“The good thing is we had good practice last week against a good defensive tackle,” Laird said. “It won’t be anything new, that’s for sure. We’re going to lean on (the offensive line).
“Our offensive line has done a good job and will continue to do a good job. I think it’s consistency on that side of the ball, whether it’s in the run game or getting first downs, and not getting ourselves in a hole early.”
Laird made no effort to downplay the impact of the season-opening loss – “It’s not a good start because we lost.” – but did point to a limited number of small things that made the 28-12 final score what it was. The three first-half turnovers against Neville, turning what was at the time of the first lost fumble into a 14-0 halftime deficit that Ruston came close to erasing, but fell just short.
“One was a snap count issue, it snapped early, and the other was a little thing of not tucking the football away,” Laird said. “(The interception was) throwing the ball late, not running the right route.”
Laird said East Feliciana will bring a multiple offense into Friday night, running a lot of 10 personnel (one running back with four wide receivers) and 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) while mixing in some I-formation.
“It’s not like somebody is going to invent a formation we haven’t seen,” Laird said. “Now it’s just a matter of what they do out of those formations and what gives us the best chance to be successful.”
Laird also saw a limited number of minor miscues in his defense that led to Neville’s final two touchdown drives.
“Late in the game defensively was the run fits,” Laird said. “We got mentally tired a little bit and were in the wrong gaps. I think in the last two drives they had 21 plays for right at 160 yards, and that’s about half the yardage they had all night.”
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