When Marcus Scott and Darnell Lee manned the cornerback spots together at McNeese State, they learned several lessons that set the foundation for what they teach their players today as respective head coaches of Destrehan and East Ascension.
Fundamentals. Technique. Effort.
“That’s what was preached to us in college, and that’s how we played,” said Scott. “As coaches, we do the same … we preach what we learned as players there.”
The friends and former teammates will face off Friday night as Scott’s Wildcats (2-0) hit the road to face Lee’s Spartans (1-1) in a matchup of teams featuring a wealth of offensive playmakers, hard-hitting defenses and similar philosophies.
This isn’t their first meeting as head coaches, and if Friday’s game is anything close to as dramatic, fans are in for a show. Scott’s John Ehret Patriots took on the Spartans in the 2018 Class 5A state quarterfinals, a game won on a 44-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute left by Jacoby Windmon to Ja’Ron Glenn – Windmon was on in place of starting quarterback Travis Mumphrey, who had left the game injured moments earlier.
“We were fortunate to win that day,” Scott mused. “We expect another tight one.”
Lee was not bashful when scheduling pre-district games this season – his Spartans (1-1) are in the midst of a run of games against a who’s who of state powers: Zachary in Week 1, West Monroe Week 2 and now Destrehan in Week 3. Zachary is currently ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, while Destrehan is ranked third in the LHSAA’s weekly poll. EA lost to Zachary, 35-13, then bounced back to score a 16-10 victory over West Monroe.
Offensively, running back Walter Samuel is a weapon who can strike in the rushing and receiving game alike.
“He’s a Division I player,” Scott said. “He’s outstanding running the ball and catching it out the backfield. He’s a guy that can really hurt you.”
Receiver Brennan Thompson is another dangerous weapon. He and Samuel are two amongst many for an offense that also boasts an experienced passer and a mammoth offensive line.
That experienced passer is senior quarterback Jaylen Lee, son of Darnell and someone Scott said is exceptionally knowledgeable of the game.
“He’s a coach’s kid,” Scott said. “So you know he’s been around the game his whole life. You can tell he has leadership … pressure doesn’t get to him.
“They spread you out and they’re huge on the line. Thompson is good, but they have a full complement of players who can beat you. I don’t know if you can stop them completely, given all the weapons they have. We’ll have to limit the damage and lean on our fundamentals. When all else fails, that’s what brings you through.”
Defensively, Scott had high praise for the Spartans.
“They’re actually really fun to watch when they’re not playing us,” Scott said with a laugh. “They’re big up front. They’re athletic in the secondary. But their linebackers, those guys can run and they’re big kids, 215-pound kids who can run and who fly to the ball. You can really appreciate what they do when you watch them in action.”
Chief among those linebackers is Antwone Foster, a 5’11, 220-pound senior who runs at a 4.7 clip.
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