Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux has had a simple message for his team in the wake of its loss to rival Hahnville, the Wildcats’ second loss in the past three games: this Wildcats team will not sulk, and it will continue to push forward to achieving its ultimate goal this season.
“Winning a state championship is always the primary goal, and this team still has plenty of goals we can attain,” Robicheaux said. “I believe this team can get better and will get better. Hahnville is a good football team. Our kids played extremely hard and played through to the end. We move on and we’ll push to get better and better every week.”
It was Destrehan’s first district loss since 2012, a 47-44 decision against Hahnville that was also the Tigers’ last win in the rivalry prior to Friday night.
Robicheaux believes his group of players are a resilient bunch, however, and that they will be ready for the Wildcats’ (2-2, 0-1) road clash with Thibodaux in the second District 7-5A game for each team.
Thibodaux (1-3, 1-0) bounced back from an early 0-3 hole to score a decisive win in its district opener, 40-6 over H.L. Bourgeois.
Robicheaux cautioned about reading too far into the Tigers’ early losses, noting Vandebilt Catholic, South Lafourche and East Ascension each represent strong competition and that each was a close loss.
“You know, they lost to some really good teams, and Thibodaux is always a tough place to play,” Robicheaux said. “We’ve played some great games against each other. It’s a team that can match up with us athlete for athlete, and they have great fan support and a strong tradition.”
Running back Tanner Guillot and quarterback Demarcus Mitchell pace a Thibodaux offense averaging 27 points per game this season.
Mitchell is a dual threat with a strong arm while also a powerful runner, who Robicheaux likened to former DHS quarterback Donovan Isom.
“He’s a big quarterback who runs extremely hard,” Robicheaux said. “We have to keep him contained, running sideline to sideline. Once he gets a head of steam going forward, he’s pretty tough to handle. We have to get a lot of guys to the ball.”
Defensively, the Tigers allowed 69 combined points over the first two weeks, but have been far better since, allowing 17 to East Ascension and 6 to H.L. Bourgeois.
“They’re big up front defensively,” Robicheaux said. “Their middle linebacker is very good and covers a ton of ground. Their secondary is tremendously athletic and it’s a defense that can give you a lot of problems.”
Robicheaux said one point of emphasis that has to be corrected in the wake of the team’s losses to Hahnville and St. Charles Catholic is redzone execution. Last Friday night, Destrehan found success moving the ball into Hahnville territory, but the Tigers defense stiffened in the redzone each time. DHS drove to Hahnville’s 30, 10 and 22 yard lines on its first three drives but came away with just three points.
“We have to make the plays once we’re down there. We can’t just kick field goals,” Robicheaux said.
Destrehan fell behind early in its 20-13 loss to Hahnville last week, as the Tigers drove the ball down the field on its first possession of the night and scored in seven plays on an Anthony Williams 6-yard run.
The Tigers answered a 28-yard field goal by Destrehan’s Phillip Stratton when Tigers quarterback Jha’quan Jackson found a seam and raced for a 64-yard touchdown to push Hahnville ahead 14-3 in the first quarter.
After Williams’ long touchdown run early in the second half, Destrehan drove deep into Hahnville territory again, but the drive stalled at the Hahnville 7. Stratton kicked another field goal to make it 20-6.
With 7:36 left in the fourth quarter, DHS finally punched in its first touchdown of the night on a 3-yard run by J.R. Blood, but could not rally to tie.
John Emery rushed for 80 yards on 14 attempts to lead Destrehan offensively. Blood completed 18 of 30 passes for 203 yards. He rushed for a score and was intercepted once.