The past few weeks have not been kind to the Destrehan Wildcats with four consecutive losses to four of the best teams in the state. While that trend seemed like it was going to continue at halftime last Friday as the East Ascension Spartans held a 13-0 lead, the Wildcats pulled out a stunning 27-point second half to take the game 27-20.
|Destrehan defensive backs Joshua Dewey (left) and Damion Armstrong (right) break up a pass last week against East Ascension. Though the Wildcats trailed 13-0 at the half, they stormed back for a 27-20 win.
The Spartans had taken advantage of an early fumble in the Destrehan end zone which they recovered for a touchdown. Two field goals and a halftime later, the Spartans seemingly landed a knockout punch with a 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. But Destrehan Head Coach Chris Stroud was not ready to give up.
"We tell them never look at the scoreboard," he said. "And no matter what the adversity in the game, you play the next play. It's a great correlation for life."
That attitude allowed them to stay in the game, stay focused and score a touchdown on a short Kevin Smith run soon after what would be the last Spartan points of the game.
From that point on, the Destrehan defense stood its ground and the offense went on the attack. The second strike was a 90-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dillan Dent to wide receiver De'Ante' Armstrong.
Next, the special teams got in on the scoring with a 45-yard blocked punt return by Aaron St. Pierre for a touchdown to tie the game.
Then the Wildcats took the victory on a drive that culminated in a one-yard Smith touchdown run.
"We've done that the last three games," said Stroud. "We dug a hole really early, never gave up and played better in the second half. This time, we got a win."
The win gives the Wildcats a 3-6 record overall and a 1-3 record in district. This week, Destrehan will host the St. Amant Gators, who fell to Hahnville last Friday.
The Gators run the option, led by quarterback Jaylin LeBlanc, which the Tigers were able to contain most of the game. But the option is hard to defend and both Hahnville Head Coach Lou Valdin and Stroud agree that it is difficult to practice for.
"Option football is always tough to prepare for and St. Amant runs it well with a big, strong offensive line and quick guys in the skill positions," Stroud said.
The Gators' option-led offense has averaged more than 32 points per game this season. However, their defense has not stopped many teams as they have allowed almost 27 points per game. Stroud sees that as an opportunity.
"Offensively, we simply have to score 28 or more," he said. "Everyone has been putting big points on their defense. We must execute and establish a running game."
The recent tough stretch of top-ranked opponents has been challenging, but Stroud sees through the losses and sees a team that is improving.
"We have gotten better every week," said Stroud. "We ran into a tough five-week stretch against great opponents and the improvement wasn't obvious on the scoreboard."
With a win this Friday, the Wildcats would secure a fourth-place district finish and would possibly be in the hunt for one of the final playoff spots in Class 5A. But Stroud is focused on the task in front of his team this week.
"We told the kids not to worry about playoffs, the math of power points, etc.," he said. "We want them to just focus on St. Amant and let the math take care of itself. We can only control how we prepare for St. Amant and win that last game."
But if they do win, Stroud cannot help hoping for a little lagniappe.
"A two-game win streak will do wonders going into winter workouts," he said. "Sneaking into the playoffs at 31 or 32, would be even better."