Destrehan didn’t earn a victory last week for the first time all season.
But no worries in Wildcat Nation, of course: the team simply had a bye week, so while there was no win to celebrate on Friday night, Destrehan remains unbeaten, and thus far, unchallenged in a competitive contest for four quarters – the Wildcats’ smallest victory margin of the season is 27 points, and overall has outscored its opposition over four victories by a whopping 184 to 27 count.
This week, however, Destrehan’s stiffest test in several weeks visits Wildcat Stadium in the form of a longtime rival: East St. John, a team that has seemingly reverted to its peak form after starting the season with two losses in three games.
ESJ (3-2, 3-2) entered the season with expectations of challenging for the District 7-5A crown, one Destrehan (4-0, 4-0) now has the strong inside track to.
East St. John’s start to this season was a difficult one, for many reasons. Hurricane Ida’s wrath was especially painful for the people of St. John Parish, much like St. Charles Parish, and the day East St. John began its football season was the first day the teams pads and equipment arrived after flood waters destroyed the old ones. After an upset 16-14 loss in game one to Thibodaux, ESJ battled Hahnville in a defensive slugfest and held on for an 8-3 win – but a week later, H.L. Bourgeois felled East St. John, 33-22.
Brighter days were indeed ahead. The past two weeks have seen ESJ right the ship, first by defeating Central Lafourche, 53-16, then by rolling past Terrebonne, 31-7.
Last season, Destrehan won the meeting between the two, 31-12. That game saw East St. John lead at halftime before a dominating second half by DHS turned the tide. Two years ago, ESJ held onto its lead, capturing a 14-13 victory over Destrehan.
“They’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles just to field a team,” said Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott. “They’re starting to get all their players back and you can tell the difference between that first game and where they are at this point.”
Under head coach Brandon Brown, East St. John has reestablished itself among the state’s most difficult matchups – and among its local rivals. After falling behind in the 7-5A pecking order for several seasons, ESJ has gone 16-5 over the past two seasons, and over the past three seasons has scored two wins over Hahnville and one over Destrehan.
“We know it’s going to be a hard fought ballgame, like it always is,” said Scott. “Coach Brown and his staff do a very good job getting his kids prepared and ready to go and we certainly have to be ready to match their intensity at the very least.”
Finding a way to slow Kylon Harris is a top priority. The speedy wideout can take the top off of any defense, and ESJ doesn’t make it easy to account for him. Harris is known to lineup as quarterback in the “Wildcat” formation, and he’s a constant threat to simply take the handoff on a sweep when motioning across the formation at receiver.
Running back Cortez Fisher carries the load when it comes to establishing the ground game. And quarterback George Smith, while in his first season as a starter, has impressed Scott.
“They’re both dynamic players … we know all about those two, because they’ve been a problem in this district for a long time,” Scott said. “But (Smith), he’s really given them a dual threat guy who can get the ball to their playmakers. We talk about Fisher and Harris, but they have a lot of weapons who can really hurt you. He certainly makes that offense especially dangerous.”
For fans of tough, defensive football, this game should rate highly. These are two especially stingy teams when it comes to yielding ground to an offense.
At 6’3, 287 lbs., Durell Daigre is an imposing figure at nose tackle for East St. John, and alongside him is another game-changer in linebacker/defensive end Jacorey Robertson. Those two lead a very physical, very fast defensive front seven.
“I think everything starts up front with 74. He anchors them up front. Then you have another defensive end in 45 … versatile, a great first step … both of those guys can go speed to power really quick. They certainly present a challenge for us, as always.”