Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott got the call he’d been waiting a very long time for.
Scott, who has been in need of a kidney transplant, got the call this week that there was a match. He went into the operating room Friday, and it was an emotional day at Destrehan.
On Friday night, the Wildcats took the field without their leader – and they no doubt made him very proud.
No. 3 Destrehan captured a 31-10 victory over No. 14 Belle Chasse in which Destrehan outscored the Cardinals 14-0 in the second half to slam the door in a Division I non-select second round playoff game. Shane Lee and Shane Ward each ran for touchdowns. Jhase Thomas and Edwin Reed each earned interceptions. Jackson Fields threw two touchdown passes, with Greg Wilfred and Johnnie Thiel IV on the receiving end.
All of the Wildcats (11-0) were inspired to play for Coach Scott – and in part as a result, Destrehan is once again in the quarterfinals. DHS will host Zachary next week with a semifinal berth on the line.
“(Scott is) the biggest part of this program … he’s trained our team for the seniors to lead,” said sophomore quarterback Fields, who helped lead DHS to the win in his first playoff start. “Everybody plays their part. I feel like he taught us so well that we were OK today.”
“We were playing for Coach Scott today,” said Thomas. “We got the job done. I know he’s gonna be happy when he hears the news.”
Destrehan defensive coordinator Tim Taffi said Scott spoke to the team early this season to convey his situation and the potential of a sudden medical leave.
“We knew this was coming … he let the kids know what could happen way early in the year. We had a system in place set up for this, so it wasn’t a shock. I think the kids understood.”
Offensive coordinator Greg Boyne said the players dealt with the emotions of the announcement even into the game, but said they did a great job executing nonetheless.
“I think those emotions caught up with them a few times during the game … you tell them to try to block it out, but at the end of the day your head coach is in the operating room,” Boyne said. “They did great and stepped up, so did the coaches.”
Belle Chasse (7-4) entered with a powerful running game led by 250-pound rusher Jaedon Voisin. But the team approached Friday’s game by committee at quarterback after a Week 10 injury sidelined starter Amari Ambrose. That mix proved strong enough to best No. 19 Parkway last week, 43-16.
Destrehan jumped out ahead first on its opening drive of the night. Shane Lee effectively announced his return to the Wildcats’ lineup after two weeks on the sideline, punching in a 4-yard touchdown to punctuate Destrehan’s first drive of the night and push his team ahead 7-0. That score was set up by a long catch and run by Greg Wilfred from Jackson Fields.
The Wildcats made a defensive stop and were knocking at the door of a second touchdown when Belle Chasse’s defense stepped up for a goal line stand and held DHS to a field goal attempt. Ryan Lacy’s kick was good to make it a 10-0 Wildcats’ lead.
The Cardinals answered on a long bomb, with Dillan Carter hauling in a 90-yard ball thrown over the top that made it a 10-7 game in the second quarter.
Not to be outdone, Fields dialed up Johnnie Thiel IV for a long connection of their own, a 73-yard play that pushed Destrehan back ahead by 10.
“We needed a spark,” said Fields. “That was an amazing play by him, a great catch, We needed it and we made it happen.”
Belle Chasse got it back to a one-score deficit when kicker Trey Furey drilled a 40-yarder just before halftime to make it 17-10, set up by a 67-yard reception by Jaedon Voisin.
As has been the case on a few occasions this season when a team has challenged Destrehan in the first half – the second half completely belonged to the Wildcats.
Destrehan extended its lead to 24-10 in the third quarter, Fields sprinting right and finding Wilfred for a 20-yard score – Wilfred held the ball through contact to give his team some breathing room.
With 2:12 left in the third quarter, Destrehan’s Jhase Thomas intercepted a pass to short circuit Belle Chasse’s attempt to answer.
“It’s all about being prepared for our opponent,” Thomas said.
Trace Adams, however, made a similar big play for Belle Chasse, intercepting Fields in the redzone to keep his team in the game.
But Destrehan’s Edwin Reed intercepted a downfield pass in the fourth quarter that put DHS in line to put the game away. That’s exactly what DHS did on Shane Ward’s touchdown run late in the fourth to make it 31-10.
Boyne gave a nod to Taffi and the defense for the second half shutout performance.
“The best job in the world is calling plays when you know you have this defense behind you,” Boyne said. “You score more than six, more than 10, and it’s all you need.”
Both coaches gave a nod to Belle Chasse for the fight it gave.
“Give Belle Chasse a lot of credit. They play hard – they’re tough and they’re very physical,” said Taffi. “So, we knew we had to stop the run and not give up the big play. We did give up a couple, but they had something to do with that. We tweaked a couple things in the second half, but they play hard. Those kids are tough.”