Traditional powers will lock horns at 6 p.m. Friday
Whether a casual fan of prep football or an enthusiast, one’s eyes can’t help but wander to one particular game listed on the schedule for Friday night: Destrehan at Jesuit.
The two teams are steeped in tradition and will lock horns in non-district play at Tad Gormley Stadium, with a special kickoff start time of 6 p.m.
The Blue Jays (5-3) are — no surprise — big and physical along both lines, and pose an interesting challenge for Destrehan (7-1) one week before a potential winner-take-all District 7-5A championship game next week as Terrebonne visits.
For both the Wildcats and Blue Jays, winning would go a long way toward earning power points and postseason positioning in their respective divisions, but at the same time, coming out of the action as healthy as possible will be key.
Plenty of eyes will be on this one.
“These are two programs with strong tradition that have had success,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “It’s two big programs coming together. For a lot of people, there’s also that public school vs. private school aspect. But I think the biggest thing is it’s two great institutions that have provided really good football the last few years and people are excited to see that matchup.”
HOW JESUIT ATTACKS: Like a boa constrictor. Jesuit controls the ball, clock and line of scrimmage against most of its foes, and what might be short gains early on in the run game can rapidly become bigger chunk plays once wear-and-tear takes hold of the opposition in the fourth quarter.
“Their size causes problems,” Robicheaux said. “They’re big, physical and really well-coached. Those guys are always in the right spot at the right time. What’s key for us is we need to stay physical on our end with them and hold up, given their size on the offensive and defensive lines.”
Senior quarterback Robert McMahon directs the offense through the short passing game, while he’s also adept at picking up yardage and first downs with his legs.
Running backs Brayton Whittington and Willie Robinson IV are the main threats in the ground game. And when Jesuit elects to pass, McMahon is more often than not looking for sure-handed Noah Varnado.
“(Varnado) just seems to catch everything thrown to him,” Robicheaux said. “We need to know where he is at all times.”
The Blue Jays see patience as a virtue.
“They’ll take what you give them. Get three yards, four yards and a cloud of dust, then they’ll line up and do it again,” Robicheaux said.
Defensively, Jesuit presents two major hurdles to overcome.
The first is the ability of its defensive line to control things up front, allowing the Blue Jays to control the run with just three players on the line.
The second is the discipline the Blue Jays have along all defensive units. Big plays are rare against Jesuit, forcing the opposition to operate as patiently as the Jays do.
“Hopefully, we can find some success running the ball, open some holes and force them to put that fourth guy on the line,” Robicheaux said.
“They’re gonna keep you bottled up. They do such a great job running to the ball,” Robicheaux said. “We have to take what they give us and not get impatient.”
LAST TIME: Destrehan opened up what was a defensive struggle early on by outscoring Jesuit 17-0 in the second half en route to a 27-10 victory. Kyle Edwards led the way for Destrehan by rushing for 122 yards on 25 carries.
WILDCATS ROLL PAST BOURGEOIS: Destrehan is still on fire.
If Homecoming Week presented any distractions, the Wildcats didn’t show it on Friday night, efficiently putting away visiting H.L. Bourgeois in the first half of an eventual 47-0 District 7-5A victory that keeps Destrehan in a virtual tie with fellow district unbeaten Terrebonne for first place.
Running backs John Emery and Kyle Edwards each scored on the ground twice in the first half to pace the Wildcats.
“I was very happy with the way our kids responded,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “With Fall break Monday and Tuesday and homecoming, I was kind of concerned. But our kids came out and practiced hard all week.
“We played real well tonight and now it’s time to get ready for two really good football teams (Jesuit and Terrebonne) to end the regular season.”
The Wildcats (7-1, 5-0) put things away in the second quarter after putting together a 14-0 advantage in the opening quarter on touchdown runs by Edwards and Emery.
J.R. Blood dialed up a long pass to Carl Lewis over the top of the Bourgeois defense, covering 40 yards, that pushed Destrehan’s advantage to 21-0 eight seconds into the second quarter, bouncing back from a rare DHS miscue on the night when Blood was intercepted on Destrehan’s previous possession.
Emery scored his second touchdown of the night when he capped the Wildcats’ next drive with a touchdown run to push Destrehan ahead 27-0. Edwards followed suit with his own second scoring run of the game, his a 35-yarder that made it 34-0 at halftime and all but finished things off.
Destrehan’s defense hadn’t faced a Wing-T offense this season prior to the Bourgeois matchup, but the Wildcats weren’t fooled by the Braves’ misdirection — the DHS first team defense held Bourgeois (2-6, 1-3) without a first down before substitutions were made in the third quarter.
“Coach (Malter) Scobel had a great gameplan against those guys. I think our defense came with a lot of energy and it really showed tonight. We created a lot of negative plays for their offense and did a really good job.”