After rolling up more than 300 yards on the ground in their 34-7 win against Ruston, the Destrehan Wildcats advance to the Class 5A quarterfinals where they will face off against Dutchtown for the second time this season.
The Wildcats struggled a bit in the passing game against Ruston, but turned to Will Matthews and Kirk Merritt, who both dazzled in their ability to move the chains on the ground. Matthews finished the game with 182 yards while Merritt ran for nearly 100. The Destrehan defense also held tough and has not allowed an offensive touchdown in back-to-back playoff games.
“I was nervous about what Ruston brought on offense, but our defense played so well. They have carried us for the last two weeks,” Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “On offense, Donovan (Isom) struggled a bit throwing the ball, but the running game was the key and we went over 300 yards. Overall, I’m excited with how we’ve been playing.”
Destrehan took a 7-0 lead over Ruston at the end of the first quarter when Isom connected with John Williams for a 20-yard score. Cameron Walsh gave the Wildcats a 10-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal, and Merritt rushed 69 yards for a score to put Destrehan up 17-0.
Ruston’s only score came on a fumble recovery in the end zone, and the Wildcats put the game out of reach with a 29-yard touchdown run by Matthews in the fourth quarter.
Robicheaux knows that one of the main reason his team has had success this season is due to how dangerous his offense is on the ground and in the passing game. When one isn’t working, the Wildcats are able to turn to the other.
“We always want to run the football, but we are so good most of the time throwing the ball,” Robicheaux said. “If we struggle in one area, we have been able to turn to the other with success.”
With the Wildcat defense playing their best football of the season, Destrehan will need to click on all cylinders on offense if they hope to knock off Dutchtown again and move on to the semifinals.
Earlier this season, Destrehan sent shockwaves across the state when they throttled the Griffins 45-14. Since that loss though, Dutchtown has won eight of their last nine games. Their only other defeat on the season came in a 38-22 loss to Catholic of Baton Rouge.
Catholic, who was the No. 3 seed in the Division I playoffs, lost to Holy Cross last week.
Dutchtown lost 43 seniors from last season and returned just four starters this year. However, those young starters are now seasoned after a full season under their belts. That makes them a dangerous team for the Wildcats to face in the postseason.
“Teams get better as the sea son goes on and the Dutchtown players are crisper, making better plays and getting it done,” Robicheaux said. “For them to be in the third round, you know they are a good team.”
Most of the time, it’s harder to beat a team twice in the same season because you have to attack them a completely different way. Destrehan must also beat Dutchtown on their home turf once again.
“Obviously you can’t quite do what you did the first time. That’s why I don’t like playing people we have played before,” Robicheaux said. “We were excited the first time we played them and came away with a big win because I think Dutchtown is a good football team. To do that twice is a big challenge. It won’t be the same Dutchtown team we played early in the season, I promise you that.”
The Griffins have had a lot of success on the ground this season due to the physical play of their offensive line. They also have two receivers that have committed to the University of Arkansas in Corey McBride and Torrance Mosley. Mosley also plays running back.
“They are going to run the ball. They have two good backs and a quarterback that can run as well,” Robicheaux said. “We will have to shut the run down. It’s going to be a very physical game.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Dutchtown.
|Destrehan receiver Kirk Merritt got a few carries out of the backfield against Ruston and made them count, rushing for a 69-yard touchdown in the third quarter.|