Wildcats must corral star rusher in first round game

November 08 at 10:02 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Quincy Brown has shined during the stretch run of the regular season for Destrehan.
Quincy Brown has shined during the stretch run of the regular season for Destrehan.
Destrehan fell a victory short in its bid to return to the Superdome last season, and the always dangerous Wildcats are riding a surge of momentum into a postseason in which they hope to take that next step.

Coach Stephen Robicheaux’s team drew the No. 8 seed in the Class 5A playoff bracket and will host No. 25 Alexandria this Friday night. Destrehan (8-2) has won six games in a row and its defense has evolved into a dominating unit over the past month, holding its past three opponents to a combined 20 points.

That the Wildcats’ two regular season losses this season represent a drop from any of the four seasons prior shows how high the program has climbed in the state’s ranks — and perhaps representative of a particularly dangerous postseason squad.

The first step will be to secure a win over Alexandria, a squad Robicheaux said his team cannot afford to take for granted. While AHS enters with a 4-6 record, those six losses came to teams with a combined record of 51-8, including unbeaten West Monroe, Jena and Benton.

“They’re formidable,” Robicheaux said. “They’ve lost to good teams and they’ve handled the teams they’re supposed to. They’ve got guys that can play and they’re better than the record indicates … when a 4-6 team ends up as a 25 seed, that tells you they’ve faced some quality competition and they’ve been tested.”

Alexandria running back Michael Orphey has the full attention of Robicheaux and defensive coordinator Marcus Scott. The blazing fast Orphey produced one of the greatest rushing nights in state history when he posted 482 yards and six touchdowns in his team’s 56-21 victory over Pineville in Week 9 of the season.

“They’re going to come out and try to establish the run,” Robicheaux said. “(Orphey) is clearly a real good running back. When you put up those numbers in a single game, you know you’re dealing with a talented back. He’s really fast and they’ll keep going to him.”

Jorien Vallien and Brandon Quinney are imposing threats on the outside, each standing 6-foot-3 and giving quarterback Ben Hesni options downfield. Vallien returned from injury Week 9 to add some punch to the offensive attack.

Offensively, Destrehan’s challenge starts with finding a way to neutralize Alexandria’s mammoth defensive tackle Jacobian Guillory, a 6-foot-3, 330-pound roadblock in the middle. He frees up linebacker Jaquarius Kendricks, who is one of the Trojans’ top playmakers.

Though Alexandria has posted a number of high scoring nights offensively this season — the team has been held to less than 20 points just once in 2017, despite its difficult schedule — Destrehan’s defense is on a roll. Terrebonne entered last week’s game with an exceptional offensive resume, but the Wildcats held the Tigers to 7. THS’ previous season-low total was 28. A week earlier, Destrehan held a tough Jesuit rushing attack to less than 40 yards on the ground and 10 offensive points.

“We’re definitely excited about the way the defense is playing,” Robicheaux said. “It’s a combination of guys doing a lot of good things out there and a great game plan by coach Scott. (Against Terrebonne) we set out to stretch out their quarterback, don’t let him run north and south, and we did that all day for the most part.”

Macon Clark has been a dynamic playmaker for the defense, but also on special teams. Clark has scored three touchdowns this season — four, if including the preseason jamboree — including scores in each of the past two weeks on blocked kicks.

The jack of all trades will line up at cornerback, linebacker or safety on any given play in his Tyrann Mathieu-like role, and the senior has been a headache for opposing teams all season long.

“He’s been doing it for us all year,” Robicheaux said. “He’s an aggressive kid who’s always around the ball. He’s Johnny on the spot and always right there, such a hard worker who just makes so many plays.”

View other articles written Ryan Arena

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Breakout year comes to end for Wildcats
Breakout year comes to end for Wildcats
After securing a playoff berth for the first time since 2013, a breakthrough season came to a close for Destrehan in its Division I first-round playoff match at St. Amant.

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