A new era is underway at Destrehan High School.
|The Destrehan defense will have to contain Salmen quarterback Daniel Sams, who is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation.
Stephen Robicheaux, who guided the team to a pair of state titles, will no longer roam the sidelines. Instead, coach Chris Stroud will attempt to lead the Wildcats back to the promised land.
Stroud is no stranger to the Destrehan program, where he has coached for the last five years. He was the mastermind behind a physical Destrehan defense that paved the way for the team's two titles, but he will have his work cut out for him this season.
After undefeated seasons in 2007 and 2008, the Wildcats stumbled in 2009. They finished the regular season 5-5, and lost to St. Paul in the first round of the state playoffs.
Stroud said that the squad is excited to put last year's record behind them.
"Practice has been going good and the kids are working hard," he said. "The guys are excited, and they are looking forward to going against someone other than their teammates."
The Wildcats will get their first chance to do that when they host Salmen at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 19.
Salmen finished the year with a 10-3 record that included a 3-1 mark in District 9-4A. They advanced all the way to the semifinals of the state playoffs before falling 60-0 to Franklinton.
Salmen quarterback Daniel Sams is considered one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterbacks. In only seven games last season, he rushed for 1,295 yards and 10 touchdowns and passed for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Sams, who has committed to Kansas State but also has offers from Oklahoma and Tulsa, was suspended halfway through the season due to a non-football incident. He was recently reinstated by the St. Tammany Parish School Board.
"They are getting Sams back this season and he is a big weapon for them," Stroud said. "On defense, we are going to have to stop the run and contain him."
The Wildcats defensive line should be one of the top units in the state with anchors Marrick Charles and Bryan Singleton. Singleton, a junior, is 6'3, 245 pounds. Charles, also a junior, is listed as 6'2, 295 pounds. Both players picked up valuable experience as sophomores last season.
On offense, Stroud said he is hoping to see consistency from his squad.
Last year, junior quarterback Taylor Dunn struggled at times and his receivers had trouble running exact routes. Dunn held off fellow junior Dillan Dent in the spring and Stroud said that the playbook has been simplified to keep Dunn from having to go downfield as often as he did last season.
Stroud said that Dunn worked hard in the offseason and that he is improving every day.
"Salmen is a good team and they have 15 or 16 starters returning from last season," Stroud said. "We need to have consistency on offense.
"I'll be happy with some big plays, but the thing I don't want are big mistakes like penalties or fumbles."