Destrehan hosts Thibodaux – win nets undefeated regular season, possible 1st round bye

Andrew Schaefer intercepts a pass in the first quarter of Destrehan's 48-7 victory over East St. John. (Photo by Ellis Alexander)

As Destrehan visited East St. John last week, the District 7-5A showdown pitted two of the last remaining undefeated teams in Louisiana against one another, and the scene in Reserve reflected it. The game had a heavyweight fight kind of feel to it.

As such, Destrehan threw the first punch – it was an uppercut, and Destrehan connected flush.

Any doubts to the game’s victor were gone in a flash in Destrehan’s 48-7 victory, one in which it scored on three of its first four offensive plays and led 28-7 after a quarter.

Through nine weeks, Destrehan has not played in a game that’s been remotely close. But a Wildcats’ squad built around a core group of players who have been part of a program that’s been to several consecutive Class 5A semifinal rounds, including one championship game, showed they’re not exactly rusty when it comes to facing upper-tier competition – and that these players and coaches do, in fact, relish it. East St. John, East Ascension and Hahnville rank 8th, 9th and 16th currently among Division I – non-select playoff contenders, and Destrehan is 3-0 against that trio by a wide margin.

“There was a big crowd, and a lot of buildup,” DHS head coach Marcus Scott said. “We talked all week about blocking out distractions and being ready to play. It was good to see … with all of the emotions, the crowd, being on the road, we were able to handle that very well.”

After enjoying the win, Destrehan now puts that behind them as it attempts to seal an undefeated regular season as it hosts Thibodaux Friday night.

DHS clinched at least a share of the District 7-5A championship with its win over East St. John, and a win Friday would net DHS the outright title.

As or even more importantly, however, a win is necessary to give Destrehan a chance to secure a first-round bye, which this year will go to the top four ranked teams in the Division I – non-select group.

Right now, Destrehan ranks fourth in D-I non-select, behind Ruston, Zachary and Neville respectively. Neville is idle this week, giving Destrehan a chance to jump to No. 3 with a win. A loss would likely drop Destrehan out of the bye.

Scott said the bye would be a new experience for his squad of playoff veterans. The new format was introduced after the LHSAA reconfigured the ranks of select and non-select schools, with several previous non-select schools moved to the select side.

“That can go both ways,” Scott said of the bye. “Sometimes it can work for you, and sometimes you’re playing well and it can work against you. You just don’t know.”

Whether Destrehan plays next week or not won’t be a focus until this game is done, however – Scott says nobody in the Wildcats’ locker room is taking a quality Thibodaux team lightly. Thibodaux is led by a veteran quarterback in Ean Rodrigue, in his third season starting at the position.

“They’re a good football team,” Scott said. “This is (Rodrigue’s) third year and they have a very good tailback (Demarcus Singleton). They put up a lot of points and we’ll have our hands full.”

Rodrigue, as is the case almost across the board in District 7-5A, is a passer who’s also extremely adept at scrambling to extend plays and picking up yards with his legs. He has a pool of talented receivers to choose from downfield.

Singleton is a home run hitter.

“He can score from anywhere,” Scott said. “He makes people miss and he breaks tackles. He’s a really good player.”

Receiver Owen Murillo is another of the team’s dangerous weapons.

“He had a good game against us last year,” Scott said. “They move him around and find ways to get him the ball.”

Scott notes the defensive front seven is active and the THS coaching staff shifts formations to keep the offense guessing.

BRICK WALL – Shane Lee, Jai Eugene and the Destrehan offense were as precise as they’ve been all season in last week’s win over East St. John, and the DHS offensive line as dominant as it’s been all year.

but a suffocating defensive performance was also critical in the win. Defensive tackles Amare Johnson and Jairin McCall were at the heart of all of it. An East St. John team with two talented rushers saw its run game shut down, while quarterback Yashua Mitchell had immediate pressure on him most of the night and never found a comfort level.

“They really played well. It was probably Amare’s best game, and Jairin was strong as well. They feed off of each other.”

Linebacker Andrew Schaefer made perhaps the night’s biggest play on either side of the ball. He intercepted a Mitchell pass on East St. John’s opening possession and returned the ball to the ESJ 2, setting up a touchdown run by Lee. Destrehan was already leading 7-0 and Lee’s touchdown made it a 14-0 lead, putting East St. John in a deep hole to start the game.

“That was a huge play,” Scott said. “It was a momentum killer (for East St. John) … he made a great play on the ball. He did a good job studying film and being prepared for the moment.”

 

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