Destrehan suffered their first loss of the season in heartbreaking fashion last week, falling to Edna Karr 27-29 in overtime. But the Wildcats don't have time to dwell on the defeat and must regroup quickly for their battle with the fourth-ranked West Jefferson Buccaneers on Friday.
|Jonathan Menard/Herald Guide
|Destrehan defensive end Bryan Singleton forces a bad throw from Karr quarterback Devante Noil during the Wildcats’ 27-29 loss last Friday.
Destrehan head coach Chris Stroud said his squad showed a lot of character last week despite the loss. The Wildcats hung with Edna Karr throughout the game, but trailed 14-21 with only minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Facing a 4th and 21 from their own 45-yard line with less than three minutes on the clock, Destrehan quarterback Dillan Dent found sophomore receiver Michael Smith for a 39-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
Smith carried the ball to the 10 a play later and Dent scampered seven more yards to the 3-yard line. The Karr defense had bent but it wasn't ready to break. They stuffed Dent on the next two carries and Destrehan eventually found themselves facing 4th and Goal with less than 20 seconds left.
Rickey Jefferson took the handoff, headed right and went into the end zone untouched. Daniel Cimino connected on the extra point and the teams headed into overtime tied at 21-21.
But after Karr scored and successfully converted a two-point conversion in overtime, Destrehan failed in their two-point conversion and Karr got the win.
Still, Stroud liked what he saw from his team late in the fourth.
"Our kids will not quit," he said. "Karr could have gone up 28-14 late in the fourth quarter after we gave up a 50 plus yard run and Karr got inside of our 12-yard line, but goal line defense made a stand and blocked a field goal.
"Then we made a 19-play dive converting a 4th and 21 and then scored on 4th and 2 with the clock ticking. Our offense managed the time well and never seemed in a hurry."
Though Stroud praised his offense for their performance late in the game, there were plenty of mistakes made.
"We did not block well," he said. "I think Karr's great defensive front had something to do with it, but some of it was procedure penalties, bad snaps, QB-center exchange and completing passes to open receivers.
"We must improve in all of the above areas."
Meanwhile, he thought his defense did a great job against Karr's explosive offense, though there were some miscues in technique.
"Besides (giving up) a couple of big plays, they had another outstanding night," Stroud said. "We made some alignment errors on goal line that we must correct and on some plays a few of our players did their own thing and did not play fighting Wildcat technique.
"We've got to have more discipline on technique."
The Wildcats will face another talented offense Friday when they travel to play West Jefferson. Though the Bucs start a sophomore at quarterback in Chavin Gouges, he is surrounded by an all-star cast. West Jefferson returns three starters at receiver in Patrick Bethley, Ronald Lewis and Devin Scott that are all dangerous in the team's spread attack.
The offensive line, which averages 272 pounds, is led by center Ronald McClelland and tackles Melvin Henderson and Gary Jenkins.
Overall, seven starters return on offense from a West Jefferson squad that went 6-5 last season.
When asked what West Jefferson does well on offense, Stroud said, "Everything.”
"Their offensive line is good, they spread you out with good athletes and pass vertical and then set up a good running game," he said.
Stroud said that the Wildcats must put pressure on Gouges but not lose containment when he scrambles. He added that the defense also needs to find a way to stop the Bucs outside running game.
"Our defense needs to be up to the challenge."
Defensively, West Jefferson returns nine starters from last season, so they have plenty of experience all over the field.
"They run a 3-3 stack and blitz from all angles with good team speed," Stroud said. "They also show Cover 0 lock man and put eight in the box and force you to pass."
But for Stroud, moving the ball against West Jefferson won’t be too difficult as long as his team does one thing well.
"Block," he said.
The Wildcats will travel to face West Jefferson this Friday. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.