Undefeated Destrehan rolls into round two after fast start

Brandon Freeman of Destrehan finds running room in Friday night's playoff win over West Jefferson.

Destrehan got off to a slow start in its last game of the regular season – it was tied 0-0 at halftime of an eventual 31-0 victory at Thibodaux last week. So, all week, the Wildcats put extra emphasis on starting strong in its round one Class 5A playoff opener against visiting West Jefferson. 

The fourth-seeded Wildcats accomplished that directive – leaping out to a 21-0 first quarter lead on the way to an eventual 48-14 victory and ticket to round two.  

Destrehan (7-0), the 4th seed in 5A, will host No. 13 Woodlawn-Baton Rouge next week. Woodlawn defeated Natchitoches Central 42-14 to advance.  

As fast as Destrehan’s start to the game was, it was almost that much faster – Kevin Adams returned the opening kickoff of the game for an apparent touchdown, but the play was called back. Destrehan nonetheless scored on its opening drive. A 24-yard run by Brandon Freeman set up the Wildcats in the redzone before back-to-back runs by Shane Lee resulted in a touchdown, Lee scoring on an 18-yard run to make it 7-0.  

The Wildcats showed how serious they were about a faster start on the ensuing kickoff. Will Bryant executed an onside kick that dribbled just past the 10 yards needed for Destrehan to make a recovery, Dorian Smith covering the ball as DHS earned an extra possession. 

“After the way we started last week, (a fast start) was a point of emphasis for us,” said Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott, who was coaching against a West Jefferson program where he had his first head coaching position. “It’s like we told them … it’s a different level now. Everything goes up because it’s playoff time. If you want to advance, you need to play with a sense of urgency. This is win or go home.” 

After the recovery, Jai Eugene connected with Daniel Blood for a 25-yard pass down to the WJHS 15. Brandon Freeman capped off the drive this time to make it 13-0 on a 15-yard touchdown run, though the extra point was blocked.  

He credited the Wildcats’ offensive line and running game for helping to set that shot play up.  

“Just coming off the ball, linemen firing off the ball, running backs doing their job and just keeping momentum … we were prepared for anything. Winning is all that matters now,” Eugene said.  

West Jefferson’s first offensive snap unraveled when Anthony Robinson sacked quarterback Caivyn Johnson, ultimately contributing to a three and out for the Buccaneers (4-4). It took one play for Eugene and Leslie Jefferson to connect for Destrehan’s third touchdown of the first quarter, this one on a 48-yard bomb. Ross Rogan found Daniel Blood for the two-point conversion to make it 21-0.  

After another DHS defensive stop, the Wildcats scored again on Eugene’s screen pass to Patrick LeBranch to make it 35-0. 

Will Bryant added a pair of field goals, while Trey Nixon added one final touchdown in the second half.  

Johnson hit Korey Newman and Jacob Hernandez for downfield shots to generate West Jefferson’s touchdowns – Newman’s play was a highlight for the Buccaneers on the night, as he made two impressive plays, one on a touchdown that saw him fight through tacklers to score, the other on a one-handed catch that went for a 10-yard gain earlier in the night.  

But this was a night that belonged to the Wildcats – a team on a mission.  

“Getting to the Dome is the goal,” said Eugene.  

Scott admitted it was a little strange looking across the field to see a team he spent six years guiding, but added that when the ball was kicked off, that all dissolved.  

“There was a little bit of that feeling … I still have a lot of close friends who work there,” Scott said. “Once you get going, it’s just about the game.”

 

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