Destrehan faces tough semifinal task against loaded Landry-Walker

The unstoppable force meets the immovable object this Friday night.When No. 1 seeded Destrehan hosts 5th seed Landry-Walker in a Class 5A semifinal game Friday night, two of the state’s elite — and red hot — programs will determine which heads to the Superdome to compete for a state championship.

In one corner, there’s Landry-Walker (11-2), loaded with top recruits and fresh off a 61-21 demolition of Parkway on the latter’s home field. The Charging Buccaneers have won 11 straight games after starting the season 0-2, and those two losses came in close games against state powers John Curtis and Karr. Landry-Walker has scored 50 points or more in its past four games and has averaged 47 points scored per game on the season, while its defense allows 21 per game. The next team to hold Landry-Walker under 40 will be the first to do so since Karr did so on Sept. 9.

In the other, there’s Destrehan (13-0), a program whose losses over the past four seasons can be counted on one hand, with two fingers to spare. After putting together its fourth consecutive unbeaten regular season, Destrehan has extended its winning streak to 12 games after besting Terrebonne, Mandeville and John Ehret in the 5A playoffs. The Wildcats have run the ball at will this season, more than once powering multiple 100-yard rushers, and are coached by a veteran of championship-level games and wins in Stephen Robicheaux. Friday night marks Destrehan’s third season in the past four of reaching at least the state semifinals. And the Wildcats will be at home Friday night.

In every way, it appears to be a clash of titans.

 “They’re special,” Robicheaux said. “They’ve got 5 star recruits all over the place. But our kids have what it takes. They’re just gritty and they get it done, and it’s anybody’s game now.”

The high-powered Landry-Walker attack starts with quarterback Keytaon Thompson, a Mississippi State-commitment. For an imposing team, Thompson fittingly sets that tone at quarterback, standing at 6’5 and weighing 230 lbs. Last week, he accounted for more than 300 offensive yards and five total touchdowns at Parkway, completing 17 of 25 passes for 256 passing yards and rushing for 56 more. Robicheaux compared Thompson favorably to former Destrehan star Donovan Isom and said Thompson will provide the toughest test for his team thus far this season.

“He’s the best quarterback we’ve faced this season,” Robicheaux said. “He’s tremendous and he can make it look easy. He gets down the field and he’ll run it when he has to. He’s like Donovan, that type of player, and we won a lot of games with Donovan. At that size, he’s difficult for anyone, even when you get to him.”

His top weapon is wide receiver Devonta Jason, one of the nation’s top recruits who has received offers from Alabama and LSU, among many. Jason is 6’4 and will pose a difficult matchup for a Destrehan secondary that has skill but lacks size, as will fellow wideout Travonta White is another big receiver at 6’2.

“We’re playing with 5’7, 5’8 guys at cornerback against 6’5 … we’ve done it before,” Robicheaux said. “We have to do what you can on (Jason) and make it so that when they throw the ball to him, it’s gotta be thrown perfectly.”

It doesn’t end there. Landry-Walker running back Tevin Bush is a speed demon and a West Virginia commitment.

“He’s is one of the fastest guys I’ve seen. He’s up there with Pooka Williams (of Hahnville),” Robicheaux said. “They have so many weapons and they can take it for a score anytime, anywhere on the field.”

Defensively, the Charging Buccaneers are coming off perhaps their most impressive defensive performance of the season, shutting down a high-scoring Parkway team and forcing five turnovers in the process. It was only the third time this season Parkway was held under 40 points. Parkway led 14-0 in that game before Landry-Walker scored 40 unanswered points to put the Panthers away.

Cornerback Corione Harris, safety Jomond Foster and roving safeties Ashton Bowie and Elvia Payton make testing the secondary a risky proposition, while lineman Shamod Sullivan puts the heat on up front.

“We have to take what they give us. They thrive off turnovers,” Robicheaux said. “We have to take care of the ball.”

It’ll be a stark test for Destrehan, but the Wildcats have passed all that have come before. After replacing nine defensive starters from last season’s quarterfinalist, including stud linemen Glen Logan and Gerald Wilbon of LSU and Texas, respectively, Destrehan had questions to answer.

Instead of rebuilding, Destrehan simply went unbeaten again, earned the first No. 1 seed in school history and marched back to the semifinals.

“Replacing nine guys, we didn’t know what we’d be dealing with on that side of the ball,” Robicheaux said. “Expectations are always going to be high here, but … I thought we’d be pretty good offensively, but on defense, we had a big question mark. I’m really excited for our kids, our coaches … this is a great testament to them.”

Destrehan hosted and defeated John Ehret (10-2) in last week’s quarterfinal round to advance, 21-14.

John Emery scored all three touchdowns for Destrehan.

After an Emery touchdown run made it 21-7, Ehret got back in it with a long Mumphrey touchdown pass of 68 yards to Darius Campbell and a Mumphrey two-point conversion draw to make it 21-14 with 8:27 left. But Macon Clark came up with the defensive play of the night for Destrehan to end Ehret’s next drive, intercepting Mumphrey to give the ball back to his offense. DHS ran out the clock from there.


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