No. 4 Destrehan faces familiar foe in first round of playoffs
Destrehan junior Alfred Smith returns a punt for a 68-yard touchdown to clinch his team’s win over East St. John.
Last Friday, the Wildcats got off to a slow start against East St. John, but a spark from the Destrehan defense turned the game around. Linebacker RaeJuan Marbley scooped up a fumble and returned it to the ESJ 10-yard line in the final minute of the opening quarter. On the next play, quarterback Donovan Isom carried the ball into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
After that, the Destrehan scores came in bunches. The team officially put the game away with a 68-yard punt return by Alfred Smith that increased the lead to 31-14 in the fourth quarter. Running back Will Matthews added the final nail with a 29-yard touchdown run.
“Those kids went out and played well,” Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux said of his squad. “East St. John was a very formidable opponent. They are big, physical and they have great athletes. The kids went on the road and won, and you have to be happy about that at this time of the year.”
Including the East St. John game, Destrehan’s most impressive wins of the season have occurred away from the friendly confines of Wildcat Stadium. Destrehan proved they were for real this year with a 45-14 victory at Dutchtown and followed that up with a 49-0 win at Hahnville.
“When I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the year, it looked so tough because of the good teams we had to play on the road,” Robicheaux said. “It shows that our kids can handle it and play in hostile environments.”
Though Destrehan has had success on the road this season, they might not have to leave home for the next three weeks.“If the top seeded teams win, we can have three-straight home games in the playoffs,” Robicheaux said. “You never know though because there are upsets, so this is a situation where we aren’t going to overlook anyone.”
That includes Terrebonne, a team the Wildcats dominated 42-17 in the fourth game of the season. While Robicheaux and his squad are excited to make a playoff appearance for the first time since 2009, the team isn’t looking forward to playing Terrebonne again.
Robicheaux said he would have preferred to play a team Destrehan hasn’t faced before due to the fact that Terrebonne has first-hand knowledge about all of the Wildcats strengths.
“If we were playing another team that hasn’t seen us (in person), they don’t know how big and fast we are. Terrebonne can actually pinpoint how fast a kid is or who to attack,” Robicheaux said. “When you just watch teams on film, it’s difficult to tell exactly how good they are, but Terrebonne can look at us and know what they need to stop.”
Robicheaux admits that his team has the same advantage, since they have already played and beaten Terrebonne.“Obviously, those same things are going to help us too,” he said.Since playing Destrehan, Terrebonne dropped four of their next six games including losses to South Lafourche, Hahnville, Thibodaux and East St. John. Still, they are always dangerous on offense due to the play of quarterback Colby Stewart.
“They are using a few more formations and plays now than they did when we played them, but they still rely on their bread and butter, which is their quarterback,” Robicheaux said. “He made plays during the first four games before we played them and he continued to make plays after that.”
Robicheaux said that his team was able to jump on top of the Tigers early during the regular season, which took Stewart out of the game.
“Their offensive line is very physical and during the season we were fortunate to score points early,” Robicheaux said. “We are going to have to try and contain Stewart again, play well on offense and hopefully score some points.”
To illustrate how anything can happen in the postseason, Robicheaux said he has talked to his team about Terrebonne’s playoff game against Barbe last season. Though Terrebonne lost 24-7 to a team that advanced to the state title, they rushed for 211 yards and fumbled twice near the goal line.
“No one gave Terrebonne a chance in that game but it was much closer than the score,” Robicheaux said. “They played Barbe in a close game and we are going to have to be ready for them.”
Kickoff of the Destrehan vs. Terrebonne game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday at Destrehan.
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