Behind an excellent performance from his defense, sophomore quarterback Dillan Dent helped lead the Destrehan Wildcats to a 14-12 win over John Ehret in the first start of his career.
Dent got some early help from defensive lineman Marrick Charles, who stripped the ball from Patriot running back Mike Alexander on Ehret’s first possession of the game. Charles caught the ball in the air and pushed ahead to the Ehret 13.
Dent had trouble evading the rush early, but eventually used his athleticism to dodge defenders and find De’Ante Armstrong open in the endzone to give Destrehan a 7-0 advantage.
The Wildcats stretched the lead to 14-0 when sophomore Rickey Jefferson opened the second half with an 89-yard kickoff return.
While the Destrehan defense played well throughout the contest, Ehret put together two successful scoring drives in the second half to trim the Wildcat advantage. But the defense came through in the clutch, stopping Ehret on a two-point conversion that would have tied the game in the third.
Both defenses dominated the fourth and the Wildcats picked up the win.
Destrehan head coach Chris Stroud was pleased with Dent’s performance, especially considering the quarterback only had one day to prepare for his first start.
“Due to a suspension, we found out on Thursday that Dillan was going to start for us,” he said. “He did everything we asked him to do, which was tough for him because of that short notice.”
But the star of the show was the defense, who has been playing great all season. Stroud isn’t really surprised at the unit’s early success.
“I knew our defensive front was going to be good, and they have really played well,” he said. “I wasn’t surprised about that, but I am surprised that our secondary, which has a lot of young guys, has grown up so quickly.”
While the defense has shut down opponents and the offense has shown signs of life, Stroud is still concerned with his special teams. In a loss to Karr, Destrehan had three punts blocked. Against Ehret, they had one blocked.
“That’s something we are going to have to correct,” he said.
Destrehan’s next opponent, Lutcher (3-1), is one team that can take advantage of bad special teams play.
LSU commitment Jarvis Landry and junior running back Daniel Taylor are capable of going the distance on any punt or kickoff return. They are also two of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the state.
Taylor is averaging 98.8 yards on the ground, while Landry averages 71 receiving yards per game.
“They have two great superstars on offense, but even if you take them away, there are four or five other guys that can step up and make plays,” Stroud said. “So you really have to prepare for five or six offensive weapons when you play Lutcher.”
The Bulldogs also have a very physical defense that plays tough man-to-man. Stroud said that Lutcher’s secondary is one of the most athletic his team will face.
“Our receivers are smaller, so we are going to have to be real creative to get them the ball,” he said. “But the most important thing for us is going to be establishing the run.”
The Wildcats will be without starting running back Kevin Smith for one more week due to injury, but junior Mark Trudeaux and sophomore Lou Donovan Wells are capable backups.
When Lutcher visits Destrehan Friday night at 7 p.m., it won’t be the first time these two teams have faced off this season. Lutcher played Destrehan in the jamboree and defeated the Wildcats 20-7 in that contest.
Though both teams are familiar with each other, Stroud said that doesn’t mean either squad will have much of an advantage.
“On one hand, it makes the work week a little easier because we have already seen them,” he said. “On the other hand, it doesn’t make it easier because they probably aren’t going to run the same things they did last time and we probably won’t either.
“You still have to base your strategy on the last three games.”