Destrehan looks to Sulphur trip for playoff preparation

Kevin Adams of Destrehan

Unlike some recent seasons in which Destrehan was forced to endure a late season week with no opponent, the Wildcats’ District 7-5A bye won’t leave the Wildcats sidelined in 2022.

Unbeaten Destrehan will travel to face Sulphur in non-district competition on Friday night as DHS attempts to earn its eighth consecutive win to start the season.

Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott said the scheduling of the game was a matter of good fortune for both teams – finding an opponent with an open date weeks after district play has begun can be a tricky ordeal.

“We both kind of got lucky and found each other,” Scott said. “We both had a Week 8 bye in our district, and it’s hard to find teams to play in Week 8 because some teams have large districts, some have an even number of teams, so it’s hard to work out.

“Especially given the last couple of years, we haven’t been able to play a full schedule of games, so you’d like the chance to play 10 in the regular season. We’ve got that this year.”

Sulphur (2-5) reached the playoffs in 2021 as Class 5A’s No. 22 seed, falling to eventual quarterfinalist Ouachita Parish after going 6-4 in the regular season.

Its wins in 2022 have come over Barbe, 29-28, and Washington-Marion, 42-8. Acadiana, Lafayette, Carencro, Southside and Sam Houston have defeated the Tors.

The fact that Sulphur is a few hours away from Destrehan (7-0, 4-0) offers a nice opportunity to get the Wildcats acclimated for a potential playoff road trip. While the Wildcats should very likely be hosting early round games at home, it’s a rare year that any team is able to host all four playoff games prior to reaching the Superdome.

Scott said he expects a playoff-type of atmosphere at Sulphur, a program he’s familiar with from his time playing college ball at nearby McNeese State.

“I’m familiar with Sulphur’s program, and they have a lot of community support over there,” Scott said. “I’m expecting a big crowd. It should create for a good, playoff style trip, and so it’s good preparation.”

Scott’s also looking forward to the chance to check in on his old school, as the Wildcats will visit McNeese’s campus before the game.

“I’ve only been back once or twice since I played there, so I’m really looking forward to that,” Scott said.

Quarterback Gage Trahan keys a Sulphur offense that spreads the field with receivers and utilizes a lot of RPO (run-pass option) concepts within its offense.

“They mostly look to pass … they’ve been about 60-40 in the games we’ve seen,” Scott said. “They have a good scheme and they put their guys in position to make plays.”

The RPO has proven to be a tough riddle to solve – it can be hard to be “right” as a defender when the play is only determined after he commits.

“It puts a defender in conflict at the second or third level,” said Scott. “What makes it tough, it uses your role on defense against you. So, what a linebacker does against a certain blocking scheme, once they see it, they throw the ball behind him. It’s pretty good stuff.”

Outside linebacker Jay Michael Stelly is a tough matchup on the edge of the Tors’ defense, while safety Peyton Lemaire is a strong tackler and playmaker.

AIR ATTACK – Jai Eugene’s 9-for-10, 181-yard, two touchdown passing performance in Friday’s 42-6 win over Terrebonne was simply the latest strong performance in what’s been a season of tremendous growth for the quarterback.

Scott said that the Wildcats knew that to get to where they wanted to be – a state champion – Eugene would need to take a step forward as a passer. More importantly, Scott said, Eugene knew it – and worked relentlessly to make that vision a reality.

“Jai works really hard, and there’s one thing about him – he really wants to win,” Scott said. “He’s willing to do whatever he needs to do to make that happen. We knew that for us to be at our best, we’d need him to complete about 12 to 15 passes a game, and he’s doing that or has been on pace to do that in the games he hasn’t played for four quarters.”

It was clear in the Wildcats’ preseason work that Eugene was being prepared to take on a greater responsibility in the passing game, and he and his receivers have been in sync all season. Coupled with Destrehan’s already dominant rushing attack, the expanded passing attack has made Destrehan a nightmare to stop – and through seven games, impossible to slow, thus far.

Experience is a factor as well, Scott said.

“He’s been doing this full-time for three years now,” Scott said. “The game is slowing down for him. He’s really seen it all.”

 

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