Destrehan readies for first playoff challenge of season

Destrehan cornerback Travon Thomas.

For the first time all season, Destrehan didn’t win on Friday night.

Of course, in this one-and-only case that’s a positive: the Wildcats earned a bye week in round one for placing as one of Division I non-select’s top four seeds, and enjoyed a week off. Destrehan is still very much unbeaten, and after 10 dominant regular season efforts are about to embark on what the team has been working toward all season, a 2022 postseason run – one that, specifically, ends with a state championship win.

It starts this Friday night as the No. 3 seeded Wildcats host former district rival Dutchtown, the No. 14 seed, at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.

Dutchtown is 7-3 this season following its round one victory over No. 19 seed Parkway, a decisive 42-8 victory. The Griffins broke a scoreless tie in that game with a dominating second quarter, outscoring PHS 28-0 in the quarter to take a lead by that same margin into halftime.

AK Burrell rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries, while Gary Dukes gained 110 yards and scored twice.

“They played a Parkway team that we feel is pretty talented, and Dutchtown handled them pretty well. It was impressive,” said Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott. “But Dutchtown is a good program and they’ve always done a good job over there, so we didn’t expect anything less than a strong effort.”

Dutchtown shared the District 5-5A championship with East Ascension and Denham Springs this season.

The Griffins’ record is strong enough on paper, but might not tell the tale entirely. Dutchtown has won seven of its last 8 games after starting the season 0-2, and only one of those wins came in a tight game – a 30-27 win over East Ascension at home in the Griffins’ final regular season game.

A change in quarterback helped prompt the streak, as Pierson Parent took the helm after changing positions in the offseason. Parent described himself as having a game somewhat patterned after Taysom Hill in an interview with – “I try to do exactly what Taysom Hill does pretty much, you know? I try to run the ball as best as I can, make some good reads and try to distribute the ball out whichever whichever way I can,”

Scott said Parent, who took over after the team fell to 0-2, makes this team go.

“He’s very good,” Scott said. “He’s a tremendous athlete with running back skills and who can throw the ball effectively. He’s the leader of that group, and he has a group of receivers who make timely plays for them.

Making Parent’s job a bit easier is some tremendous firepower alongside him in the backfield in the form of Burrell and Dukes. Burrell plays on defense as well, a playmaker at defensive back. Both players are very capable of taking a carry to the house at any time.

“They’re impressive players, impressive athletes. They play multiple tight ends and they look to wear you down – they run the ball well,” said Scott. “You have to obviously stay aware of the big play-action pass, which they mix in for big gains.”

Scott said it might be more of a matter of slowing the Griffins’ rushing attack than stopping it completely.

“That’s tough – nobody’s really stopped them all year,” Scott said. “We have our hands full.”

On defense, Dutchtown has a strong core of linebackers and a good front seven overall. Defensive backs Burrell and Kaden Mackey are two of the team’s standouts and can make life tough for an offense.

“They’re interchangeable, and a big part of what they do on defense,” Scott said. “Those guys are two of the better athletes we’ve seen.”

At one point, Dutchtown’s defense shutout three consecutive opponents in a string of October games. The offense, likewise, has been clicking during this streak, with 27 points or more in each of the seven wins.

BYE-BYE-BYE: The week off was a new experience for these Wildcats, and that’s rarity for a group of players and coaches who have strung together several consecutive deep playoff runs.

“You don’t really know what to expect with a bye, because we haven’t had one before,” said Scott. “But it was good. We were able to focus on some fundamental stuff, as well as special teams and some stuff for special situations that may arise. The energy level and focus level have been great, even with the bye week.”

“We’ve been fortunate to not have (injured players in need of the bye week). But after you play 10 games, something is hurting – that’s the same for everybody. So (the bye) worked out pretty well.”


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