Destrehan must slow top quarterback in round 2

Destrehan’s defense rallies around a ballcarrier during last week’s first round playoff game against Hammond.

High profile matchups have pretty common for Destrehan of late, between a Week 9 visit to Jesuit, a Week 10 district championship showdown with Terrebonne, and this week’s fare: the Wildcats travel to the west bank of New Orleans to face Landry-Walker, a team not yet two years removed from a Class 5A state championship win. That second round Class 5A playoff game is set for 7 p.m. Friday night at Behrman Stadium.

In that year, 2016, Landry-Walker was virtually unchallenged on its way to a title, including a decisive state semifinal win at Destrehan. This time, No. 2 seed Destrehan is a significantly higher seed than the 18th seeded Charging Buccaneers, but DHS head coach Stephen Robicheaux said he and his team know full well that seedings can be deceiving, and Landry-Walker is a prime example.

“They were 6-4 and yet still 18th in the state for a reason … their losses came to teams with a combined three losses between them,” Robicheaux said. “They’re legit.”

Those losses came to John Ehret, Warren Easton, Karr and John Curtis, respectively. Landry-Walker earned each of its seven wins by 18 points or more, including last week’s 30-12 win at Barbe.

This also represents Destrehan’s first road game of the postseason, and Behrman Stadium can be a difficult environment to play in.

“It’s always a tough place to play,” Robicheaux said. “Right off the bat, their band is the loudest you’re ever gonna face. They do a good job … we have to make sure we don’t get caught up in all the fanfare, stay focused on the task at hand and hope to get a win.”

For Destrehan (10-1) to defeat Landry-Walker (7-4) and continue their march to a state championship, it must find a way to slow down senior quarterback Ja’Quan Dorsey, one of the state’s most prolific producers.

“It starts with him … hopefully we can move the ball on them, but on the other side of it, we’ve got to slow down that big quarterback, especially running the football,” Robicheaux said. “He’s a dual threat, big and fast … and he really did a good job against Barbe, who couldn’t stop him. He causes a lot of problems and he has a lot of speed at the wide receiver position that really puts pressure on your defense.”

But pay too much attention to Dorsey, and running back Chad Alexander can make you pay.

“He can really fly,” Robicheaux said. “It’s what they do … they’re a big play offense.”

Destrehan’s offense may well be as big a part of the Wildcats’ defensive gameplan as the defense itself. Controlling the ball will be critical, and Destrehan will attempt to do that behind two stellar backs in John Emery and Kyle Edwards.

“They want you to throw the ball and get into that back and forth kind of game with them,” Robicheaux said. “They’re a big play team and they want to score quickly. We want to make them drive the ball and make them earn their touchdowns, by limiting the big plays.”

Defensively, the Landry-Walker linebackers represent the biggest danger to Destrehan.

“That’s the strength of their defense … those are two guys who can really run,” Robicheaux said. “Both of them are about 200 pounds patrolling the middle.”

Landry-Walker is big up front and athletic in the secondary.

“When you have that front combined with those guys in the secondary, it’s a good combination to have,” Robicheaux said.

He feels his team is well-prepared to play in a tough road atmosphere, after scoring road regular season wins at Jesuit, Slidell and East St. John.

“There’s a reason we got the 2 seed, and it’s because of the people we’ve played … being in those situations will help our kids this Friday night,” Robicheaux said.

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