The movie The Dark Knight contains an iconic line delivered by Heath Ledger’s Joker to Christian Bale’s Batman: “I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
And maybe, just maybe, Destrehan and Acadiana are too.
When one makes it to the Superdome, the other is often waiting. Saturday night (set for a 7 p.m. kickoff) marks the third time in four Class 5A championship game appearances for Destrehan that Acadiana has been its opposition. In 2007, Destrehan earned a 41-21 victory to seal a state crown. In 2014, it was Acadiana returning serve, taking a 23-7 victory and 5A championship.
This time, Acadiana is attempting to finish off an unbeaten season, one in which the Wreckin’ Rams have rarely found a true challenge. Destrehan, meanwhile, has battled back from adversity to earn the right to compete for the title.
The Rams downed two-time defending 5A champion Zachary in the semifinals to advance, 21-14. It defeated Benton in round one, 78-28, Walker in round two, 49-0, and Airline in the quarterfinals, 34-7.
Though Acadiana’s winning scores, like in round one, have been sky high, their offensive approach is the same as prep observers have come to know for years: a powerful Veer option, behind a line that sets quickly and rolls off the ball like a well-oiled machine and a quarterback that rarely makes mistakes.
Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux knows it well: this will be his fourth meeting with Acadiana in the state playoffs, including the two Dome matchups and a 2013 semifinal, the latter won by the Rams.
“It’s crazy the way it’s happened,” Robicheaux said. “We’ve matched up with one another in this spot a few times now. But I think good programs end up in the Dome, and from that standpoint, it’s no surprise to see them. They’ve had incredible success.
“At this point, honestly, you’ve got a shot to play for a state championship, and that’s the most important thing. The opponent isn’t as important, because at this stage you know you’re playing someone real good.”
Acadiana has topped the 70 point mark four times this season, including an 82 point effort in late October against Sam Houston, which was the 10th seed in 5A. All but two of Acadiana’s wins have been by two touchdowns or more.
Running back Dillan Monette is the Rams’ offensive centerpiece, one of the leading rushers in the state. Last week, he tallied 125 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. His big play ability is a big reason why Acadiana’s run first style has equated to so many big scoring outputs.
“Speed, speed, speed,” Robicheaux said of Monette. “He’s got great versatility, great moves … he has a big offensive line that gives him creases to get through, but the key is he can really fly.”
Fellow running back Tyvin Zeno and quarterback Keontae Williams are other keys to the attack. Williams went 5 of 10 for 118 yards and a score against Zachary.
Robicheaux likened Acadiana’s Veer to John Curtis’ option attack, noting both teams “lull you to sleep” before popping someone loose for a big play.
“You try and stop the run and they hit you with a pass. They have really fast wide receivers and they’ll throw to them out the backfield,” Robicheaux said. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes and they score a lot of points. The challenge for our defense is that offensive line and just being able to tackle and get to the football.”
While Acadiana doesn’t make many mistakes, errors for their opposition often prove fatal.
“You have to really be dialed in with your technique and fundamentals. Every guy has to do their job,” Robicheaux said. “The dive man has to tackle dive. You need someone on the quarterback and you need guys on the pitch. There are a lot of parts with a job to do, and if you miss assignments, it’ll be a long night.”
Acadiana’s team speed extends to defense as well. A man to man coverage scheme that brings plenty of players down in the box effectively dares opponents to try to make plays downfield through the passing game. Actually doing so is the challenge. Jermaine Paris and Derreck Bercier Jr. key the Rams’ defense from that linebacking corps.
“They have big guys who make gaps up front for the linebackers to make plays. They flow to the ball,” Robicheaux said. “They’re real, real fast and physical. They’ll press you, try to beat you up on the line of scrimmage … they’re really aggressive. You have to be able to take your shots.”
Jermaine Paris and Derreck Bercier Jr. key the Rams’ defense from that linebacking corps.
Because of the explosiveness of Acadiana’s offense, Robicheaux said not only will the defense have to be on top of its game, but the Wildcats’ offense will need to be ready to put some points up on the board.
“The teams that held Acadiana down a little bit were the ones that stopped them from making the big play,” Robicheaux said. “But they’re gonna score their points. I think you’ve gotta be able to score with them.”