When Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux returned to lead the Wildcats in 2012, he knew that he faced a lot of pressure to quickly turn the football program around.
Robicheaux had led the Wildcats to back-to-back state championships in 2007 and 2008 before resigning as coach after the 2009 season. In his absence, Destrehan won just five games in the next two years.
But Robicheaux welcomed the pressure when he returned, saying that it would lead to a more competitive football program.
“There will be extra pressure, but that means there will be extra desire and extra fire to come back and do the things we need to do,” he said at the time. “I told the kids when I talked to them that I can’t guarantee that we will win games, but I can guarantee that we will play hard and do things the right way.”
Just a year after his return, the Wildcats were again one of the top programs in the state, advancing to the semifinals in 2013 before losing to eventual champion Acadiana.
This year, the Wildcats are back in the state championship game with a 14-0 record. Still, Robicheaux is reluctant to take credit for his team’s recent success.
“It’s not about me, it’s about these kids,” Robicheaux said. “I’m happy to be able to get these kids in a situation where they can compete for a state championship. It’s all about this program, and I’m happy to be a part of this program, but these kids have worked hard and done everything that we’ve asked of them.”
Robicheaux will lead his players onto the Superdome turf on Saturday night as they try for their third state championship in the last seven years. Once again, Acadiana is the only thing standing in their way.
Acadiana beat Destrehan 35-7 in last year’s semifinal, but the Wildcats were forced to play a majority of the game without star signal caller Donovan Isom, who was injured in the first quarter.
Robicheaux’s first state championship in 2007 came by way of a 41-21 victory over Acadiana in the title game. That 2007 offense was loaded with senior playmakers Jordan Jefferson, Damaris Johnson, Tim Molton and Jerico Nelson, who all succeeded due to a very talented offensive line.
This year, Destrehan has plenty of experienced playmakers on offense, along with an offensive line that has paved the way for the team’s success.
“I think the key [this season] is our offensive line, but when you have senior guys like [running back] Will Matthews, [receiver/running back] Kirk Merritt and [receiver] Alfred Smith on the field, that helps tremendously,” Robicheaux said.
Destrehan’s defense has also impressed this season and is limiting opponents to a little more than 10 points per game.For more information on the state championship game, click here.