In both the preseason scrimmage and the jamboree, Destrehan head coach Chris Stroud has singled out the play of his defense, which has managed to hold a pair of talented offenses in check.
But it’s the offense that needs to get rolling if the Wildcats hope to make another playoff run. Stroud was encouraged by what he saw from the unit in the second half of their jamboree against Lutcher, but they must continue to improve if the team hopes to pull out a win over Helen Cox this Friday.
Though the Wildcats lost to Lutcher 20-7 last Thursday, the Destrehan defense only allowed 6 points to the Bulldogs in the opening half. That’s impressive because Lutcher has one of the top receivers in the state in Jarvis Landry and one of the fastest running backs in 5A in Daniel Taylor.
“I was really excited about how the defense played, especially in the first half,” Stroud said. “Our offense put them into some bad situations because of turnovers, and they really stepped up.”
Lutcher added a pair of touchdowns in the second half, which Stroud said was due to mental breakdowns by the defense during that period. However, the Wildcats hung with the Bulldogs and were down only 12-7 with six minutes remaining in the game.
“That showed that we can compete,” Stroud said.
While the defense was impressive in the first half, the offense was the opposite. Quarterback Taylor Dunn struggled and threw an interception during the first half, while the Destrehan running game was nonexistent.
“We stunk it up in the first half on offense,” Stroud said. “We had an interception and a fumble and couldn’t get going. After some halftime adjustments, we were able to run the ball well, protect our quarterback, and Dunn got in a rhythm.”
Dunn led the team down the field halfway through the second half and ended the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Rickey Jefferson.
That kind of offensive production needs to continue for the Wildcats to beat Helen Cox on Friday.
Helen Cox finished the 2009 season with a 3-7 overall record, but Destrehan needed a game-winning pass from Dunn to defeat them 25-22 last season. It also happened to be Dunn’s best game of the year as he connected on 15 of his 23 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns.
“Taylor has to get in a rhythm early against Cox and our offensive line has to play better,” Stroud said. “We also need some of our young receivers to step up and make some plays. So far, they haven’t done that.”
And the Destrehan offense will have to step up against a talented Helen Cox defense.
“They have two defensive ends that really put pressure on the quarterback and a linebacker that makes plays all over the field,” Stroud said.
Offensively, Cox is led by running back Kerry Brister, who Stroud said is tough to bring down. Brister had 15 carries for 156 yards in his team’s jamboree loss to West Jefferson last week.
“He was unstoppable against West Jeff,” Stroud said. “He’s a very tough guy to stop.”
But Stroud believes his defense is up to the challenge, especially if they win the turnover battle.
“That’s going to be really important for us,” he said. “We didn’t get a turnover in the jamboree, but we need to start winning the turnover battle in order to be successful.”