At the heart of every competitor, the idea is — however realistic or not it may be — to win them all. And for four consecutive regular seasons, Destrehan has done just that on the football field. The Wildcats likely won’t use this week’s open date as time to reflect on that accomplishment, not with an eye toward making a championship push in the Class 5A playoffs. But last week’s road win cemented a number of desired outcomes for Destrehan, including a fourth straight District 7-5A championship and an unbeaten regular season mark that likely means the Wildcats will enter the postseason as the No. 1 seed in Class 5A, potentially meaning a run of home games through the state semifinals.
While DHS coach Stephen Robicheaux surely feels good about the fact that it’s been 38 games since the Wildcats last lost in regular season play, his words Tuesday made clear that his focus lies on what he hopes will be five more games — and wins — over the next few weeks.
“We’ve played nine games and you can’t be better than 9-0, so you have to be proud of that,” Robicheaux said. “The big thing is to take that top spot in power points rankings, that means you’ve got the best seed going into the playoffs. Maybe in a few years we can look back on this and see that we went on a nice little run here. But the important thing for us right now is looking ahead to what we have to do in the playoffs and preparing ourselves for that.”
The Wildcats had an open date in Week 10 of last season, just as they do this season, after wrapping up district play in Week 9 — each team in District 7-5A had a non-district date after the beginning of district play in Week 4, meaning an open date would result if a team could not find an opponent for a given week. Destrehan was not able to schedule an opponent to cover the open dates in 2015 and 2016, hence the bye.
Robicheaux said the team got a solid handle on how to handle the open week last season and will follow a similar formula this time around. Though he’d like to see his team have a game, he said the benefit of the bye is that the Wildcats can focus totally on themselves and not an opponent.
“We’re working on us and at getting better,” Robicheaux said. “We made a tremendous amount of mistakes Friday, so we’ve got to clean it up. We’ll find out who we play Sunday and at that point we’ll turn our attention to them. For right now we’ve got a little time to sit back and get better.”
When the Wildcats do return to action for next week’s opening round, the question remains as to who will be leading the team at quarterback. Last week saw senior quarterback Kohen Granier return to action for the first time since he suffered a knee injury against Hahnville in Week 4. Granier played much of the second half in relief of sophomore J.R. Blood, who has played well in Granier’s absence.
Granier represents a great deal of experience, having played as a sophomore and posting huge statistics as a starter in 2015 and for his time in 2016. He did not throw an official pass in last week’s win — a first down completion was called back by penalty — yet Destrehan rallied back from a 33-28 deficit to score 20 unanswered points after he entered as the Wildcats rode the running game to victory.
Robicheaux hasn’t tipped the Wildcats hand to that end.
“We don’t know,” Robicheaux said. “Both played well Friday. We’re going to feed Kohen a little more this week. We’ve got two weeks to make the decision. It’s a good problem to have when you’ve got two quarterbacks who have been playing well. His knee came out pretty good after, but we’ll see how it responds this week. We’ll watch that closely and we’ll go from there.”
No matter which player takes the field at the position, they’ll have the benefit of a powerful running game headed by senior Kristian Mosley, who rushed for 260 yards and three touchdowns last week. Mosley has put together a sensational season packed with big plays, and he has tallied over 500 yards on the ground over the team’s past two games.
“He’s been tremendous. Last week, he ran extremely hard, ran like a running back should,” Robicheaux said. “What we’ve done running the ball takes the pressure off any quarterback.”
Last week, Mosley’s 75-yard touchdown run pushed the Wildcats ahead by a point, and for good. While many teams rely on the run to grind out drives and set up the passing game to make explosive plays, Mosley’s speed — he finished second place in the Class 5A 200 meter state championship — means those instant scores can come on any carry, anywhere on the field.
“You want to control the ball and the clock and sometimes, with Kristian, you almost can’t do that (because of the big plays).” Robicheaux said with a laugh. “That’s a real good problem to have. You can run the ball, it’s key to bringing those safeties down in the box and that gives you the opportunity to hit the big ball over the top.”
With the passing game also clicking around receivers Justin Jefferson, Mike Young and a deep array of pass-catching talent, Destrehan presents a challenge for a defense.
“I wouldn’t want to try to stop our offense,” Robicheaux said.
Conversely, it was a defensive play that sealed last week’s win at Thibodaux. Destrehan linebacker Jonathan Duhon intercepted Thibodaux quarterback Kevon Williams with 1:47 left to play and the Wildcats up eight, setting up a Mosley touchdown run to finish off a 48-33 Destrehan victory at Thibodaux.
“It’s a great, great feeling,” Duhon said. “A game-winning interception … that’s the biggest play I’ve ever made. I saw him cross in front of me, jumped in front of him and then ran my hardest to try and get into the endzone. Didn’t quite make it, but I’ll take it.”
Destrehan had to ward off a high-powered Thibodaux offense geared around the talents of Amik Robertson, who scored three touchdowns and was a major factor all night long.
Thibodaux (6-3, 5-1) took the lead Williams threw a long ball to Rochon Washington for a 57-yard score to make it 33-28.