Trip to Dome at stake Wildcats battle No.1 Acadiana
Rematch of 2007 state championship game
Wide reciever Kirk Merritt (above) and the rest of the Destrehan offense need to get off to a fast start if the Wildcats hope to knock off No. 1 Acadiana in Lafayette on Friday night.
Last week, Destrehan did enough against Dutchtown to advance to the semifinals, though it wasn’t always pretty. The Wildcat offense was shut out in the first half with the team’s only points coming on a safety.
However, the Destrehan defense, which has only given up one touchdown in three playoff games, shut down the Griffins and gave their offense time to get into a groove in the second half.
Destrehan quarterback Donovan Isom connected with Tramaine Armstrong in the third quarter for a 37-yard touchdown, but Dutchtown inched back into the game with a 29-yard touchdown run.
The Wildcats iced the game in the fourth, with Isom and Armstrong combining for another score to give Destrehan a 16-7 lead. Cornerback Raekwon Morgan picked off his second pass of the fourth quarter to set up the final score, a 5-yard run by Isom to complete the 23-7 victory.
Though Destrehan beat Dutchtown 45-14 earlier in the season, Wildcat head coach Stephen Robicheaux knew this game would be different.
“I thought we got what we thought we were going to get. Dutchtown played inspired and their defense gave us problems,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. In the third round, you throw out all the regular season scores and only the best teams are playing.”
While the offense struggled early, Robicheaux was impressed with the play of his defense.
“We were able to take them out of their running game, which is what Dutchtown relies on,” Robicheaux said. “We forced them to throw late and got three interceptions.”
Offensively, Robicheaux knew his team would get things together eventually.
“We told our kids to be patient and we would figure it out,” he said. “The kids did a good job and Donovan made a perfect pass to Tramaine. It was just a matter of getting it figured out.”
Arguably the best team Destrehan has ever fielded, which won a state championship in 2007, also had close games in the playoffs, Robicheaux added.
“We had to fight then just like we have to fight now. It’s just a part of football,” he said.
That 2007 team beat Acadiana in the Dome for the state title. However, this year’s Acadiana squad may actually be better than they were that season.
The Rams have a 12-1 record this year with their only loss coming to 4A powerhouse Neville. Acadiana’s impressive resume includes two wins over Barbe and defeats of Rummel (42-28) and New Iberia (28-6).
Last week in the quarterfinals, they knocked off Barbe 27-17 behind 173 rushing yards from running back Edward Cormier. Acadiana quarterback De’Edward Cormier, the running back’s twin brother, only completed six passes but made them count for 119 yards. He also finished with two interceptions after playing on both sides of the ball nearly the entire game.Robicheaux said that Acadiana runs their option attack to perfection and has a very quick offensive line leading the way.
“They are a machine. They run that option and they are the John Curtis of the Lafayette area,” he said. “Their offensive line is unbelievable because they just move off the ball so quickly. Their running backs understand how to run in that offense and they stay where they need to be.”
And while Acadiana relies heavily on their ground attack, they know exactly when to try for a big play.
“They run, run, run and lull you to sleep and then get you with a big passing play or a different running play,” Robicheaux said. “That puts a lot of pressure on a defense.”
In order to slow the Rams down, Robicheaux said his squad must remain disciplined and play assignment football.
“We need to play tough in the front, control the line and play our assignments,” he said. “A lot of our guys are going to have to tackle a running back who doesn’t have the ball or a quarterback that doesn’t have the ball.”
The Wildcats explosive offense also gives teams fits and Robicheaux plans on that to continue. The Wildcats have one of the best backfields in the state with Will Matthews at running back and Isom at quarterback. Destrehan’s offensive line has played physical all year and the team has several talented receivers that are capable of going the distance on any play.
Isom has also done fairly well this season avoiding the rush, but he must play one of his better games for the Destrehan offense to roll.
“Acadiana is real big up front and they get a lot of pressure on the quarterback,” Robicheaux said. “They take the inside away from you, and they have a real man at linebacker and defensive backs that can go. They have all the tools.”
Destrehan will be at a slight disadvantage having to face Acadiana in Lafayette, but the Wildcats have been road warriors this season. They beat Dutchtown twice in Geismar and knocked off East St. John in LaPlace.
“We’ve won at some pretty good places this year and I think we will stay focused,” Robicheaux said. “That’s a mark of a pretty good team.”
Kickoff of the semifinal is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6.
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