After falling to rival Hahnville 35-14, the Destrehan Wildcats must regroup if they hope to get into the playoffs and make some noise. But the road doesn't get any easier Friday night, as they host No. 6-ranked East St. John.
|Destrehan receiver De’Ante’ Armstrong is surrounded by Hahnville defenders during his team’s 35-14 loss last week. Destrehan has played an extremely tough schedule and will face their fourth-straight ranked team this Friday when they host East St. John on
Against Hahnville, the Wildcats got into trouble early as they watched the Tigers jump out to a 28-0 lead in the first half. Hahnville only needed two plays to go 75 yards on their first scoring drive, and then relied on a halfback pass from Ahmad White on their next possession for a 14-0 advantage.
White rumbled 42 yards down the field for his team's third score, and Ensminger found Derek Howard from 5 yards out to put the Tigers on top 28-0.
"We gave up two big plays early, and they picked on a sophomore cornerback who was playing well all season," Destrehan head coach Chris Stroud said. "They go up 28-0 early and we are trying to regroup the boys."
But Destrehan didn't go away quietly.
With seconds remaining until halftime, Wildcat quarterback Dillan Dent knew his team needed a touchdown and he made it happen. Dent scrambled around in the pocket, juked a few defenders, and then hurled the ball into the endzone where it found the waiting hands of receiver Rickey Jefferson.
"The step up in the pocket and long touchdown pass by Dillan Dent to Rickey Jefferson as the clock ran out gave us a little shot in the arm going into the half," Stroud said. "We talked about pride and playing hard no matter what the score."
Destrehan kept the momentum going in the third quarter, when Dent and Jefferson hooked up once again for a huge touchdown - this one a 73-yarder. But the Tiger defense stepped up down the stretch, coming through with two important stops on 4th down that ended the Wildcats’ chance at a comeback.
"We were very proud of the way our kids didn't quit, however we told them that Destrehan is not in the tradition of moral victories," Stroud said. "Destrehan teams will come back and win…we are not there yet.
"But we definitely got better against another good opponent."
Like Hahnville, the Wildcats next opponent is capable of putting up a lot of points. East St. John, who is 7-0 on the season, is averaging more than 42 points per game.
Most of that offensive success has to do with D’haquille Williams, who is arguably the state's top receiver.
"I wish I could take whatever Williams has, put it in a bottle and share it with our players," Stroud said. "He's such a phenomenal athlete, but his biggest quality is he has a knack for giving up his body and getting the football.
"Good pass, bad pass, he catches it, and he obviously has great speed."
And Wildcat defensive coordinator Tim Taffi said East St. John coach Larry Dautrerive does a great job of getting Williams the football.
"He will line up at quarterback, slot back receiver, and wide receiver. He will run the football, throw the football and catch the football,” he said. "Williams is an exceptional athlete who is a threat to score each and every time he touches the football."
Taffi adds that ESJ quarterback Darion Monroe is a good passer who is also a threat to pull the ball down and scramble for yards if he needs to.
"They also do an excellent job of running the football," he said. "They will line up in many different formations and pound the football between the tackles with the power and counter trey plays.
"ESJ has good size up front and they do a good job of mixing up their plays and formations."
Defensively, East St. John plays a tight man-to-man defense that creates a lot of pressure in the backfield, according to Stroud.
"They will send one more than you can block on every play," he said. "You have to be able to pass to beat them."
Stroud said for Destrehan to earn the victory they must control the time of possession and keep the East St. John offense off the field.
"Maybe this is the week that we finish drives and actually get it done in the red zone," he said. "If it is, you will see a good high school ball game."