A week after falling to the fourth-ranked team in the state, the Destrehan Wildcats face an even tougher test on Friday when No. 2 Dutchtown comes to Wildcat Stadium.
|Jonathan Menard/Herald Guide
|Destrehan running back Kevin Smith rushed for 162 yards and scored a touchdown against West Jefferson last week. Smith and the rest of the Destrehan offense will have to avoid Dutchtown safety Landon Collins this Friday.
And their offense must improve if they hope to have any chance to pull off the upset.
Destrehan struggled offensively in their 14-26 loss to West Jefferson last week, even though running back Kevin Smith rushed for 162 yards on only 14 carries. Much of Smith's yardage came in the second half, however, as Destrehan trailed 0-26.
The Buccaneers struck first with 3:38 left in the opening quarter on a 44-yard run by Ronald Lewis. Lewis was actually trapped five yards in the backfield on the play, but he shrugged off the Destrehan defender, reversed field and found a seam down the left sideline.
The extra point was no good and West Jefferson led 6-0. The Destrehan defense held tough for much of the second quarter, but with their offense failing to sustain drives, they got worn down towards the end of the second. The Bucs gashed the Destrehan D using their running game and then scored their second touchdown of the night on a 12-yard pass from David Davis to Jamell Gilbert. Destrehan would block the extra point, but the Bucs extended the lead to 12-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball soared over the heads of returners Rickey Jefferson and Smith. Smith backtracked to pick up the ball at the 2-yard line and managed to take it five yards to the 7. With only 2:14 left until the half, Dent dropped back and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown to give West Jefferson a 19-0 lead.
The Bucs increased their lead in the third after successfully converting a fake punt for a 35-yard gain to the Destrehan 10-yard line. Devin Scott scored two plays later on a 4-yard run to put West Jefferson on top 26-0.
Wildcat quarterback Dillan Dent found receiver Ferman Victor in the endzone for a 10-yard score to end the third, and Smith bulled his way into the endzone for Destrehan's second touchdown in the fourth quarter.
But Destrehan head coach Chris Stroud said miscues kept the Wildcats from getting any closer.
"We shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and dropped balls in the first half," he said. "In the second half, we ran right at them and had a little success, and in the third drive we are inside the 30-yard line of West Jeff and we run a screen and have one guy to block and we miss him and lose five yards."
After that play, Destrehan was called for an offsides penalty, and on 3rd and 14, Dent was sacked.
"We could've gone to a 26-21 ball game with just under six minutes left but we didn't execute in crunch time," Stroud said.
Defensively, the Wildcats performed well despite the score, forcing West Jefferson to punt in seven of the Buccaneers’ nine possessions.
"We gave up a pick 6 interception and gave up bad field position on punt returns," Stroud said. "We did give up a couple of big plays on defense when we had their running back corralled but overall another good performance by the defense."
The Destrehan D will have to corral another talented running back when they host Landon Collins and the Dutchtown Griffins at 7 p.m. this Friday. Dutchtown is 4-0 on the season.
Collins is ranked by ESPN as the 19th best recruit in the nation and has offers from LSU, Alabama, Florida, Texas and several other major programs.
"Looking at their offense, Collins jumps out at running back and they have a good offensive line," Stroud said. "Their quarterback, Mason Nickens, also runs the zone read game well."
Stroud said that Destrehan will have to gang tackle and play physical for four quarters in order to slow down Dutchtown.
"We have to play ‘Fighting Wildcat’ technique," he said. "We have to stop the power, counter and QB zone read plays and we must make them pass the ball downfield."
While Collins is his team's top running back, he has gained national attention for his ability as a safety.
"Landon Collins is everywhere on defense…he is literally Superman for them," Stroud said. "But the whole team is well coached and sound, their D-line is phenomenal in technique and running to the football."
Though Collins is impressive, Stroud said his team has faced great future D-1 players for the last two weeks.
"Our kids have to play with confidence and realize we have some pretty good players too, but in the same breath we have great respect for Landon," Stroud said. "He is special."