Despite a tough two-week stretch that saw Destrehan blow fourth quarter leads against both East St. John and Bonnabel, Wildcat head coach Stephen Robicheaux said one of his teamís goals is still attainable.
"The only good thing about it is that it is week 10 and we still have the opportunity to make the playoffs," Robicheaux said. "If we win against Hahnville, we think we are in."
A few weeks ago, it seemed like it was a given that the Wildcats would make the Class 5A playoffs. They began district play 2-0 and held a 13-point lead against East St. John with six minutes left in the game. However, a costly fumble gave East St. John new life and they would stun Destrehan 35-34.
Even though they lost, the Wildcats were still in the running for a district title, but the team blew another late lead against Bonnabel to drop to 2-2 in district play. Destrehan had taken a 21-12 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter after a 13-yard score by running back Will Mathews. On the next series, Destrehan intercepted Bonnabel quarterback Treyvon Pittman, but the ball was stripped and Bruinís cornerback Kyle Evans returned it the other way for a touchdown.
While the Wildcats still held a 21-19 lead late into the fourth quarter, Bonnabelís Daniel Valesquez connected on a 37-yard field goal to put Destrehan away for good.
Robicheaux and his squad were stunned for the second time in as many weeks.
"We knew (Bonnabel) had a good defense, but we moved the ball and thought we had a chance to make a play to win it," Robicheaux said. "We are just not getting it done and a lot of that is my fault. We have to finish.
"The football gods havenít been smiling on us."
Robicheaux said his teamís struggles in the fourth quarter have been difficult to pinpoint because so many things have gone wrong.
"If it was just one thing it would be easy to fix, but it has been different things at different times," he said. "The kids have been great through the whole process though. I am excited and the kids are excited to put those games behind them because we are playing Hahnville with a chance to go to the playoffs."
Hahnville has been playing its best ball when the games matter most. The Tigers started the season 0-4 after losses to Karr, Lutcher, St. Augustine and McDonogh 35. However, Hahnvilleís offense and defense began to click when district play began.
The Tigers locked up the district title last week with a 49-6 win over John Ehret and are assured of a playoff spot next week.
"(Hahnville head coach) Lou (Valdin) has done a great job over there," Robicheaux said. "They have already won district and they are playing well right now."
Hahnville has used a dominant run game to remain undefeated in district play with a 4-0 record.
"They run the football and thatís Hahnville football from way back when," Robicheaux said. "They run counter, trap and they have a big fullback, Cody Morales, that can block. Moving Sergio Medina from defense to running back really gave them a spark."
Medina, who began the season as linebacker, has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of his teamís last four games.
The Tigers struggled to contain the run on defense to begin the season, but the unit regrouped when district play began. They shut out Higgins 21-0 and allowed only a late touchdown to John Ehret in last weekís 49-6 victory.
"Their defense is playing well now – they are playing at a high level," Robicheaux said. "They are just a team that is playing well at the right time."
Destrehanís defense, led by linebacker RaeJuan Marbley, has played well for most of the year, but has struggled as of late. On offense, Destrehan has shown flashes of brilliance when quarterback Donovan Isom is on target. The emergence of sophomore running back Will Mathews has allowed the Wildcats to move the chains consistently.
However, Destrehan has yet to get their passing and running attack on the same page.
"We need to control the ball more," Robicheaux said. "We are doing a good job of moving the ball in the running game and passing game at times, but we need to put it all together to beat Hahnville."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Destrehan.