Destrehan survived a battle with East St. John in Reserve last season, 35-34, in what was one of ESJ’s declarative moments that its program was back on the upswing last season.
DHS coach Stephen Robicheaux said after that game that he was highly impressed with how then first-year ESJ head coach Brandon Brown had turned that program in the right direction. A year later, with ESJ ready to travel to
Destrehan (4-2, 1-1) this week, he sees the same hard-nosed, talented team on film, and expects nothing less than another tough game.
“They play to their strength, that defense is fast and runs to the ball. They’re very physical,” Robicheaux said.
“They’ve done a lot of good things offensively, as you can see by the points they’ve put up. East St. John always has a lot of tremendous athletes, and they’re doing a good job putting those guys in the right places to be successful. We should have our hands full.”
While East St. John’s offense found no traction offensively in games against Hahnville and St. James, it’s lit up the scoreboard in its other contests, scoring 47, 56, 68 and 49 on the way to a 4-2 mark thus far (1-1 in District 7-5A).
It certainly has the markings of a Larry Dauterive offense, and indeed the former ESJ head coach has been calling plays for Brown as his offensive coordinator. Robicheaux knows the former well, having coaches so many games against him in Dauterive’s first tenure at ESJ, and vice versa.
“Yeah, seeing Doe on the sidelines, he’s fun to watch, he’s so animated,” Robicheaux said. “He’s a guy with a lot of experience, and he’s forgotten more football than I’ll ever know. He’s got those guys moving the football, and they have all the tools.”
Quarterback Sean Shelby “can make every throw,” Robicheaux said.
“He throws those out routes that are hard to cover. I really like the way he throws the football,” he said.
C.J. Gardner paces the team’s rushing attack behind an offensive line with a lot of size. Wide receiver Dontae Fleming is a large, explosive downfield target who stands 6’2.
Defensively, linebacker Trevion Hampton gave Destrehan problems a season ago. Amari Bernard and Shaun Sterling are playmakers at cornerback and safety, respectively.
Destrehan is rarely in the position of coming off a loss, much less two in the past three weeks. But that’s the position DHS finds itself in after Friday’s 30-22 loss at Terrebonne.
Penalties and turnovers have to be cleaned up, Robicheaux said, in the wake of the team’s four giveaways in the loss. Getting off to a faster start will also be a focus, he said, after both the Terrebonne and St. James losses saw those teams leading by two scores or more entering the fourth quarter before furious DHS rallies.
“Kyle Edwards had 132 yards on the ground, but probably had 70 called back by penalties. You can’t do that against a good team and expect to win,” Robicheaux said. “You look at some things after you’ve lost a couple of games, and what’s affecting your team. We’re not coming out with the energy we need to have at the beginning of games. That falls on me, and we’ve got to get better. We’re going back to fundamentals and we need to do a better job of preparation.”
One question will be who will take the reins at quarterback on Friday. Senior starter Damarius Jackson has been limited by an ankle injury, and had to be lifted early in last week’s game in favor of freshman Jai Eugene, who started the previous week in liu of his injured teammate.
Robicheaux said both players were practicing and receiving reps, and the decision as to who starts this week would likely come down to Friday.
“We thought he could go, but he was definitely not 100 percent,” Robicheaux said of Jackson. “It was obvious at the beginning of the game. We set our offense around Damarius being able to run the ball, and with him having trouble with that ankle, it’s a tough thing. He’s getting better every day. The good thing is Jai’s getting more reps now and with that, more experience.”