Experience gained in tough season should make DHS stronger next year
That is exactly what the Destrehan Wildcats had to go through this season, losing their starting running back, Kevin Smith, to injury early in the season and then their starting quarterback to suspension.
Couple that with the fact that five of Destrehanís games were against top ten opponents and it results in a 3-7 overall record and a 1-4 mark in district.
However, even in dealing with all of that adversity, the Wildcats were only within six points of finishing 5-5 and possibly sneaking into the bottom of the playoff bracket. That speaks volumes as to the character and drive of this team. They never gave up. When the game was seemingly out of hand, they still played hard on defense and offense.
No victory personified the team as much as the hard fought, come from behind win over East Ascension two weeks ago when the Wildcats were down 20-0 in the third quarter. They battled back and scored 27 unanswered points to take the win. And last week, the Wildcats took the St. Amant Gators into overtime, battling for a chance at the playoffs before falling by three points.
While the Wildcats were short on victories this season, those games proved to be a learning experience for the young team. Because of the vacancies at running back and quarterback, several young players who would have spent the season learning from the sidelines were able to learn on the field. Junior quarterback Dillan Dent stepped in and performed well, but this experience will only make him better next season. The same goes for junior running back Mark Trudeaux and sophomore running back Lou Donovan Wells, who filled in for Smith admirably.
Smith will return next year, so the Wildcats will have three running backs with experience. Also sophomore wide receiver and all-around play maker Rickey Jefferson will return next year. Jefferson provided some of the most dynamic plays of the season with kick returns, receptions and rushes that went for over 50 yards and resulted in touchdowns.
Three key players will not be returning, as offensive lineman Ethan Huston, linebacker Tarquin Kenner and wide receiver De'Ante' Armstrong graduate this year. Huston has already made a verbal commitment to Ole Miss while Kenner is courting schools like Tulsa, Tulane, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Wildcats will have some inexperienced offensive linemen next year as most of the line graduates, but the players behind them and flanking them will have gained a year of learning through adversity. And they should come out a better team because of it.
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