Last week’s 21-2 victory over St. James represented Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott’s first win as Destrehan’s head coach. He called it a good feeling, but said it was more important to him to see his team respond after difficulties faced in the Wildcats’ opening week loss at St. Paul’s.
“It was a really rewarding feeling,” Scott said. “We were able to handle that adversity from the week before and that made all the difference.”
H.L. Bourgeois travels to Destrehan this week for another district matchup, the second of a three-week Destrehan home stand. Bourgeois (1-1) fell last week in its District 7-5A opener against East St. John, 34-20. They’ll try to bounce back, while Destrehan (1-1) will be kicking off district competition for the first time this season after a pair of non-district battles. The Braves handed Ellender a decisive 41-17 loss in the season’s opening week.
Jordan Rainey leads the Braves at quarterback, triggering a versatile offense that mixes several formations into the gameplan each week, which can be trouble for a defense to match up with. Rainey went 5 for 9 for 107 yards through the air and carried eight times for 50 yards in the win over Ellender. Rainey passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two others.
“He’s a talented quarterback and they have some very capable skill players,” Scott said. “What makes them tough is they can do so many things. They’ll get into the Wing-T, get into the spread … they make you prepare for different things.”
Rainey adds to the deception.
“He handles the ball well. He’s really good at play fakes,” Scott said. “And he’s able to throw the ball well downfield.”
Running back Javon Pharagood is one of the team’s top weapons, and he’s a playmaker on both sides of the ball: Pharagood plays defensive back as well for the Braves.
Other notable weapons for the Braves this season have been receivers Demarcus Singleton and Quan Harris.
Defensively, the Braves are fast and athletic enough to play man-to-man coverage. Scott notes as a whole, the defensive unit is very active out of a base nickel set.
“They really play hard with their front six,” Scott said. “They’ll take those five defensive backs and play man, and you’ll have six in the box often who are active and play hard.
One might expect, then, for Destrehan to crank up the running game to take advantage of the smaller front, though Scott notes that isn’t a one-week goal for a Wildcats team leaning on its defense and special teams as a young offense grows.
“It’s important (to establish an effective running game) every week, not just exclusive to this game,” Scott said. “You have to establish it in every game you play. Against St. James, we were able to control the clock (in the second half) a little bit more and I think that helped us contain an explosive offense.”
The Wildcats’ defense has been the rock of the team thus far this season, and that was expected, Scott said, with a number of starters back from last year’s strong defensive unit that keyed a run to the Superdome.
“They know what we expect,” Scott said. “Coach Taffi and our defensive coaches have done a great job, and we have a lot of experience back on that side of the ball. It’s our strong point and should be our strong point.”
After splitting reps at quarterback in week one, Jai Eugene Jr. played nearly every snap against St. James. Scott said his sophomore passer is looking more comfortable, but cautioned that his team is still a work in progress offensively with mostly new starters getting their bearings early this season.
“We started doing some things that fit his skill set, and that should continue as we move forward,” Scott said.