On Monday night, the Destrehan Wildcats quickly put last year's disappointing season behind them and made a definitive statement in their 37-20 victory over the South Lafourche Tarpons.
Delayed three days by Tropical Storm Lee, the Wildcat defense wasted no time once the game began, blocking a punt on the Tarponsí first drive. Defensive end Dereck Robinson recovered the punt and returned it 25 yards to put the Wildcats up 7-0 before the offense even stepped onto the field.
The defense continued to play a huge role in the first half when an interception by linebacker Zachary Agurcia and a blocked kick both led to offensive scores for the Wildcats.
"Coach Tim Taffi (the Wildcat's defensive coordinator) and his staff did a great job getting our D ready to play," said Destrehan Head Coach Chris Stroud. "They work on strip circuit in practice and emphasize turnovers. But we are just blessed with physical, big and fast players and we expect them to carry us all year long, much like 2008's defense did."
The first of those two scores was a 51-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Dillon Dent to wide receiver Ricky Jefferson, and the second was a 55-yard touchdown run by running back Kevin Smith, who had 114 yards rushing on the night.
Dent added to the Wildcat lead just before halftime with a 63-yard touchdown run of his own to put Destrehan up 27-7 heading into the second half.
In the third quarter, after the Tarpons scored once more, Dent and Jefferson connected again on a 33-yard touchdown pass. Dent completed five passes for 116 yards on the night and ran for 92 yards as well.
"Dillan's leadership is impeccable. He commands control of the offense," said Stroud. "His passing game has improved, although we'd like him to continue progressing there, but it is his team."
The Wildcats will have a short week to prepare for their next opponent, the St. James Wildcats, who they will host on Friday at 7 p.m.
"We are trying to have our bodies recover in a short week," said Stroud. "We can't overlook a very talented St. James team that struggled in the jamboree but played well against West St. John last week."
St. James won their district last season, however those were the only four games they won all year. Last Friday, fighting the winds and rains of Lee, they lost a very close game to West St. John who won 18-12 in overtime.
St. James has a strong running game and lots of speed, which Stroud hopes to be able to control on Friday.
"We will work on containing their quarterback and their speed on the outside, and we will also try to keep them from being sound in their misdirection game," he said
The inexperience and the challenges of last season have led to a more mature and focused team this year. And that has already paid off in a decisive victory. Now Stroud is looking to continue that success.
"Yes we definitely had a great start, so now we play the next one," he said. "We focused on the importance of the first game that counts, but now we're talking one game, one play, one practice at a time."