Wildcats must rebuild defense next season following 2-8 record
Destrehan senior safety Spencer Bentley leads the charge at the goal line as the Wildcats try to keep the Tigers from reaching the end zone in the third quarter.
The Wildcats finished 2-8 on the year and ended district play with an 0-5 mark.
"It was the first time all season that I thought we did not compete for four quarters," Destrehan head coach Chris Stroud said about his team's performance against Hahnville. "I think our kids got up for it, but with the early adversity going down 17-0 in the first quarter, I saw some of our kids shut down.
"I was very disappointed in that."
The Tiger offense hit the ground running from the first few plays of the game. After a 34-yard run by Travis Faucheaux helped to bring them deep into Wildcat territory, kicker Craig Ford put the Tigers on the board with a 22-yard field goal.
Then on the very next play from scrimmage, Destrehan fumbled a handoff and Hahnville defensive lineman Jamon Lathers recovered it at the Destrehan 21-yard line. From there, Tiger quarterback Easton Melancon hit wide receiver Ronny Green for a 21-yard touchdown, giving the Tigers a very early 10-0 lead.
The Tigers would have good field position on their next possession as well when a Destrehan punt was tipped and downed at the Wildcat 33-yard line. The three-headed rushing monster of Faucheaux, Ernest Thompson and Michael Ford then pounded the ball down to the one-yard line where Melancon dove in on a quarterback sneak to give the Tigers a 17-0 lead with three and a half minutes left in the first quarter.
"I was disappointed that we let Hahnville just run it right at us in the first drive and in giving up big plays," Stroud said. "It obviously didn’t help the defense with turning the ball over on our first series and then having a bad snap on the punt on the second series."
The Tigers went on to score on their next possession as well. Melancon began the drive with a 34-yard strike to Green. Then after a 15-yard Thompson run, Melancon scrambled to the left and flicked the ball to wide receiver Jaylon Bryant in the end zone to raise the score to 24-0.
Minutes later, Destrehan finally caught a break when defensive back Dillan Dent recovered a Hahnville fumble at the Tiger 22-yard line. Kicker Daniel Cimino then put the Wildcats on the board with a 33-yard field goal.
Hahnville would add another field goal themselves just before the half when Craig Ford hit a 45-yarder to bring the score to 27-3.
The offenses of both teams struggled in the third quarter, but the Tigers found the end zone in the fourth as they drove methodically down the field with their running backs, going 74 yards in 13 plays culminating in a three-yard touchdown run from Faucheaux. And with just less than 10 minutes left in the game, that brought the scoring to an end at 34-3.
Destrehan’s offense struggled throughout the game, finishing with just 65 yards on the ground and 81 through the air.
"We had another inconsistent performance," Stroud said. "Kevin Smith getting injured early hurt us, although Mark Trudeau looked good at times. Hahnville’s D-line dominated in the trenches."
The Wildcats will be in rebuilding mode next season after losing most of their defensive stars, including linemen Marrick Charles, Bryan Singleton and Dereck Robinson. Charles and Singleton were both three-year starters for the Wildcats, while Robinson has been a defensive standout for two years.
Linebackers Zach Agurcia and TJ Chopin, along with safety Spencer Bentley, will also be missed next season.
"We had a freshmen team that went undefeated with good talent, so we have to rebuild," Stroud said. "Our kids need to stop dreaming of championships past in 2007 and 2008 and start working to earn the right to get in the playoffs."
Destrehan will be a little better off on the offensive side of the ball. Though the Wildcats lose running backs Kevin Smith and Mark Trudeaux, they return sophomore quarterback Donovan Isom and playmaker Rickey Jefferson, who missed half of the season due to a knee injury.
"I expect Rickey to really attack his rehab workouts and have a great senior season," Stroud said. "I remember Jordan (Jefferson) has a little experience at getting injured junior year and having an outstanding senior season."
But a lot of the success of the Wildcats next season will hinge on their young quarterback’s development. Stroud feels that Isom is more than up to the challenge.
"Donovan is the type of young man who will work on his technique and flaws, study film and become a better runner and thrower. He should have a great junior season throwing to weapons Rickey Jefferson and Michael Smith," Stroud said. "Running backs Lou’Donovan Wells, Talvin Michael and Will Matthews should give him some help.
"The key is the offensive line. Can we protect him and make holes for the running backs?"
Destrehan will find out next year.
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