Though not district foes, Slidell has become quite familiar with Destrehan and vice versa. The two teams squared off in 2015 and 2016, and this Friday’s matchup at Destrehan will mark the third consecutive year the teams have met in the season’s opening week.
The Wildcats defeated Slidell 33-23 two years ago, with the host Tigers making a furious late comeback before a late Destrehan score sealed things. Last season, DHS rolled up more than 600 yards of offense in a 45-23 romp at Wildcat Stadium.
“You definitely get a feel for what one another is doing,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux. “Still, there are differences you have to account for. They wanted to throw it more last year, now they’re run-first. Defensively, they’ve made the shift to a 3-3 stack. They move around a lot and put pressure on your offensive line.”
Slidell made a return to the Class 5A postseason last season and hopes to take another step in 2017. The Tigers enter the regular season on a positive note after felling visiting Lakeshore in jamboree action last week, 21-6.
Quarterback Jacob Guidry leads the Slidell offense. Guidry led Slidell to 21 unanswered points in the jamboree win, firing a touchdown strike to Tirrell Sylvas and running for another score.
“He’s the guy that makes them go,” Robicheaux said. “He’s very mobile, athletic … he can make good plays out of busted plays, so you’ve really got to cover the whole time. He’s a tough kid who can run it and throw it, and he puts a lot of pressure on your defense.
“For us, we have to play disciplined and under control, because he can hurt you in so many ways.”
Sylvas is a tough matchup on the outside, 6-foot-3 and fast. Tito Simmons is a dangerous running back who also scored in last week’s jamboree.
“Their offensive line really gets after it,” Robicheaux said. “They give those guys chances to make big plays. They’re very athletic on offense, so we’ll have to play well for sure.”
Defensively, middle linebacker Trevon Stacker has caught Robicheaux’s eye.
“He’s extremely active,” Robicheaux said. “I really like him. He’s a very good player for those guys.
Cornerbacks Jerry Thompson and Ishmael Burdine are playmakers at cornerback, along with safety Lawnajah Harvey.
On a night that will likely feature wet conditions, Slidell might expect an even bigger dose of Destrehan running backs John Emery and Kyle Edwards.
“Having two backs like them, it’s an advantage,” Robicheaux said. “We can really pound it with those guys. Obviously, (given the weather) we’ll need to run the football. And I have confidence in those guys and our offensive line.”
For the third consecutive season, Lutcher felled Destrehan in a jamboree contest that came down to the closing moments.
Senior kicker Alex Bland drilled a 22-yard field goal with no time remaining on the clock to lift the Bulldogs to a 23-21 victory at Destrehan, bringing to a close a battle between last year’s Class 3A champion and a Class 5A semifinalist.
“You know, I thought there were a couple turning points there that could have made a difference,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “My hat’s off to them. They made plays when they had to, we didn’t stop them when we needed to.”
Destrehan took a 21-20 lead with 7:35 left to play on J.R. Blood’s 41 yard touchdown pass to Carl Lewis over the top of the Bulldogs defense.
But as Lutcher did much of the night, it controlled the clock on its next drive, eating up all of the remaining time in the game as it drove from its own 36 to the Destrehan 5-yard line. The key play of that drive came on a third-and-15, where Kolby Bourgeois threw a strike to Gregory Clayton for a 20 yard gain.
That was the third play of third-and-9 or more Lutcher converted on the night.
“Gotta get off the field,” Robicheaux said. “Gotta get off the field. Third-and-14, third-and-15, we didn’t make the play.”
That and an ability to run the ball enabled Lutcher to keep an explosive Destrehan offense on the sideline. DHS had the ball for just four minutes of action following an interception return for a score by the Wildcats’ Macon Clark with 1:05 left in the first half.
John Emery scored a 1-yard touchdown on the game’s first possession. Rondell Mealey (32 yards) and Gregory Clayton (47 yards) each hauled in touchdown receptions from Bourgeois, while Daevon Adams scored on a 1-yard plunge.
Emery finished with 49 yards on eight carries. Lewis hauled in 75 yards on five catches. Blood completed 8-of-12 passes for 98 yards.