DHS defense faces stiff challenge as Barbe visits

For the second time in three seasons, Barbe will visit Destrehan Friday night in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, with a spot in the state quarterfinals on the line.

The last meeting between the teams, in 2015, saw then third-seeded Destrehan romp to a 52-27 victory over the 14th seeded Buccaneers. This time, Barbe visits as a ninth seed, with the eighth-seeded Wildcats (9-2) aiming for their eighth win in a row.

Barbe (10-1) is the co-champion of District 3-5A, along with Sulphur and Acadiana. The latter handed Barbe its only loss of the season, 21-14 on Sept. 29. Since then, the Buccaneers have won six in a row, most of those coming in convincing fashion. The latest was an impressive 52-6 win over Parkway in first round action.

It’s a team that has scored its share of points this season. Barbe averages 44.6 points per game and has scored 38 points or more in 10 of its 11 games.

That sets up a strength-on-strength matchup with the Wildcats’ defense, which has been strong all season but seems to only now be truly peaking. Destrehan has allowed 14 points or fewer in each of its past four wins.

“The thing that really sticks out about them are their two 1,000 yard rushers (Jaivan Samuel and Dana Fontenot),” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “They’ve moved the ball on almost everyone they’ve played. They’re big and physical up front, and their quarterback (Luke Richard) does a good job completing short passes to keep the offense moving. We’ve been playing real well defensively, so hopefully we can keep playing the way we’ve been and be OK.”

Robicheaux said the Barbe running backs are extremely dangerous, especially so given the strong play of their offensive line this season.

“The one thing that really concerns me is their size,” Robicheaux said. “That team can blow you off the ball. This group can cause tremendous problems because of their size. Our guys have played extremely hard, and hopefully this is something where our quickness can win out over their size.”

Defensively, Barbe boasts size as well. Robicheaux notes the interior defenders of the 3-3 aligned Barbe defense make running inside very difficult, and when runs are strung out to the perimeter the Buccaneer linebackers and safeties have been up to the task.

“Their big guys up front cause havoc,” Robicheaux said. “Their linebackers are very solid and the secondary does a good job of coverage. That’s a 10 win team that’s only lost to Acadiana, one of the top-ranked teams in the state, so we know we’re in for a challenge.”

Destrehan has been steadily improving offensively throughout the season, and has had to do so despite a number of key injuries. Last week, the team was missing wide receivers Carl Lewis and C.B. Anderson. Top recruited wide receiver Quinton Torbor has missed time as well. And offensive centerpiece John Emery, a junior and major Division I recruit at running back, has been sidelined with a wrist injury since the team’s win over East St. John in Week 6 of the regular season.

Kyle Edwards has returned from his own injury and has been highly productive as the team’s starter. But while Robicheaux said Emery had not yet returned to practice earlier this week, he wouldn’t rule out Emery from a return to action this Friday night.

“There’s a chance,” Robicheaux said. “Right now, he’s running around. We’ll see what the doctor says and go from there.”

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