A week after Destrehan took the inside track in the race for the District 7-5A championship, with a come-from-behind rally at East St. John, the Wildcats look to build on that momentum as it hosts Thibodaux on Friday night.
Thibodaux (2-3, 1-3) bounced back last week after a lopsided loss at Hahnville to defeat Breaux Bridge 27-22 in a non-district game.
The Tigers ranked among the strongest defense teams in the state through the season’s first three weeks, where they allowed 26 combined points. But a series of injuries left the team ill-fit to combat Hahnville’s explosive offense. Things settled down last week, but Destrehan will provide another major stress test for that unit.
Thibodaux operates primarily out of the 4-3 defense, and likes to limit the big play with a lot of two deep safety looks.
What that allows, said Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott, is a talented front seven to work to stuff runs and stall drives.
“They have a very active defensive line. Really, the entire front seven,” Scott said. “Those guys don’t stay blocked, and they pursue the football. That presents a challenge.
“They all play together as a unit, and that makes them very formidable. It’s not something where you can key on just one particular person. So everyone, for us, needs to do their job.”
Offensively, Luke Alleman puts significant pressure of his own on a defense. An experienced quarterback who can get chunks of yardage with both his arm and his legs, Alleman was last season’s All-District selection at quarterback in 7-5A and is having another good season. Last week, Alleman tossed a pair of touchdown passes against Breaux Bridge, while running back Ferronte Miller scored one on the ground and one through the air. Reciever Ean Rodrigue and Khalil Wesley also scored for Thibodaux.
Count Scott among those impressed by the Thibodaux passer.
“He does everything well,” Scott said. “He can throw it, and he can pull it down and run. He can also scramble to throw on the run and extend plays. He’s one of the better players in our district.”
Destrehan (4-1, 3-0) has its own firepower on the offensive side of the ball. While the Destrehan defense has been dominant all season, an expectation for a very seasoned and accomplished group, the Wildcats brought back just two starters on offense this season. Quarterback Jai Eugene is just a sophomore, and running back Shane Lee, who shares carries with senior Razan Keller, is the rare freshman getting heavy snaps for a Destrehan offense. The line brought back just one starter in senior Eli Taffi.
It hasn’t always been smooth since a bumpy week one performance. On several occasions, Destrehan might find itself struggling for a quarter or even a half. But in each game, the offense has found a way to not just kick into gear, but surge to put things away – see last week’s win at East St. John, where DHS trailed 12-3 at half, only to roll to a 31-12 victory behind a dominant second half, or Week 2 against St. James, where a 2-0 DHS deficit held until the Wildcats posted three touchdowns in the second half to win 21-2.
Last week, Keller had his biggest yardage output of the season, carrying 17 times for 138 yards and a touchdown. Lee scored twice, carrying six times for 34 yards. Eugene completed nine of 12 passes with a touchdown and no interceptions, with four completions for 63 yards and the score going to Bullock.
“I think when you have so many guys seeing their first real playing time, or first time as full-time starters, it can take some time. That was the case in our first couple games or so,” said Scott. “But I’m happy with the steady improvement we’ve seen. I want to continue to see that, and if we keep taking those steps we’ll be in great shape.”