If weighing the best value a prep football fan can find on jamboree week, the annual River Parish showdown between Destrehan and Lutcher demands high consideration.
This year’s jamboree exhibition is set to be played Friday night (Aug. 24) at Lutcher (JV kicks off at 6 p.m with varsity to follow), which has won three of the past four of the annual preseason exhibition against the Wildcats, including the last three. Those games all came down to the wire, including:
*Destrehan holds off a late Lutcher charge for a 21-13 victory in 2014.
*In 2015 Lutcher earns a 26-21 victory by holding off Destrehan’s own ferocious rally, the game ending with Destrehan stalled inside Lutcher’s red zone when time expired after Mike Young was ruled down in bounds on a pass from Kohen Granier.
*A late fumble costs Destrehan as Lutcher quarterback Jontre Kirklin scored on a keeper and then on a two-point conversion to ice a 25-24 win in 2016.
*Last season, Lutcher wins 23-21 on Alec Bland’s 22-yard field goal as time expired.
Destrehan has rolled through the spring and summer, scoring at will in dominant scrimmage performances against Northshore and Salmen. The Wildcats would set a new bar with anything remotely as impressive against Lutcher, while reversing some recent history in the process.
“Shoot, they got us the past three years. That’s a great program with great athletes … we’ve had some real barnburners,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux. “It’s just two good programs with great tradition and really good athletes coming together and playing football.
“They give us a challenge and our guys understand the challenge because of who Lutcher is and the success they’ve had.”
Lutcher always stocked the field with skill weapons in Tim Detillier’s time as head coach, and his successor Dwain Jenkins has been no different. Jenkins, Detillier’s former offensive coordinator and the former head coach of St. James prior to his arrival at Lutcher, has directed some of the state’s most prolific offenses, and the Bulldogs have remained one of the most challenging teams for opponents to match up with.
Providing one of the toughest riddles for Destrehan to answer will be a very familiar name to its fans: Rondell Mealey, the son of the former Destrehan and LSU star, will line up alongside quarterback Devin Bourgeois and also out wide.
“They run a lot of counters and powers … they do a good job of creating spaces for Mealey,” Robicheaux said. “And you know if you try to stop the run, they’re gonna hit you with the pass, multiple screens and so forth. It’s a tough task and our guys have got to be ready to play.”
SCORCHING HOT: After Wildcats quarterback J.R. Blood went 16-for-18 and tossed five touchdown passes in the spring game against Northshore, it was a wonder what he and his DHS teammates could do for an encore.
Against Salmen, they showed there was more of that in the tank. Blood completed 15 of 17 passes on Friday as Destrehan dominated start to finish.
The Wildcats opened the scrimmage with a bang, Blood hitting Quinton Torbor on a quick screen pass for a touchdown reception of over 50 yards. John Emery scored on a run and a pass reception, while Quincy Brown and Joe Washington also combined with Blood for scores. Defensively, Destrehan shut out the Salmen first team.
Robicheaux noted Blood’s sharpness — the passer has completed 89 percent of his attempts and has not been intercepted through the two scrimmages. The veteran coach credited the work Blood has put in and his grasp of his role in the offense, as well as the skill weapons and playcalling of offensive coordinator Greg Boyne, who he noted has done a strong job keeping each of the team’s playmakers involved.
Robicheaux made sure to especially note, though, the play of the team’s offensive line, which starts four seniors.
“It starts up front,” Robicheaux said. “We’ve got a group of guys who aren’t very big but who are real athletic and get the job done. If they can continue to protect J.R. like they’ve been, we can have a lot of success.”