Talent abounds in showdown between Destrehan, Ehret

Dontrell Smith makes a return for big yardage.

Destrehan travels to face John Ehret this Friday night, which means the stars will be out and shining brightly in Marrero.

Each program has established itself as among the annually talent-rich on the prep landscape, and this year’s matchup between the teams will feature as many next-level recruits as it has in some time.

Destrehan (2-0) and Ehret (1-1) have locked horns for years, the game having become something of a tradition and annual strong ticket for fans of the high school game.

“We’ve been playing them for a real long time, certainly since I’ve been back here as coach (since 2012),” said Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux. “Even before that, really. They’ve got some big time players who have that blend of being big, fast and physical.”

Last season, the Wildcats fell behind 13-0 early before roaring back to take a 44-25 victory at home. This season, both teams appear to have raised their respective games.

This is a game that features arguably the nation’s best running back, five-star Georgia commitment John Emery of Destrehan, and Donte Starks of John Ehret, who Robicheaux called “the best linebacker in the nation.” The two figure to see much of one another throughout Friday’s battle, with Starks and his teammates attempting to slow Emery’s production as the back has topped 160 yards in each of his first two games.

“(Starks) is a big, physical kid at 6’1 and about 215 … the kid can play. There’s a reason he’s ranked so highly,” Robicheaux said. “He’s got all the tools. You’re used to seeing it with Ehret … they had (current LSU linebacker and former high recruit Michael) Divinity last year. They always seem to have great talent, and he’s not alone over there.”

Robicheaux called Ehret’s size “ridiculous” and said this Ehret squad is the one the Patriots’ program and faithful have been waiting on.

“It’s (quarterback Travis) Mumphrey’s senior year and I know they’re excited about this squad. We’re pretty excited about ours. We’ll see how it plays out.”

The Ehret size up front on defense is something Robicheaux said will be a new litmus test for the team’s offensive line, which has played very well thus far. The Wildcats have made up for a lack of size across the board with skill, experience and athleticism, but Robicheaux said if he had any concerns with the group before the season, it would be in a situation where a team might be able to overwhelm them with size and strength.

“These guys are big and physical, so you hope to keep them at bay and open some holes for John and get our backs free in the secondary,” Robicheaux said.

For Destrehan’s defense — and all others — Mumphrey presents a host of potential problems. Last week, he threw three first-half touchdowns against a stout HHS defense.

Deron Coleman is a go-to target at wide receiver. Brandon James, Jordan Pickney and Michael Jones are among other big weapons for Mumphrey. Damond Leonard has emerged as a playmaker on the ground, last week piling up 138 yards and a score on 17 carries.

A subplot of this showdown is that Ehret head coach Marcus Scott was Robicheaux’s defensive coordinator over the past two seasons. Robicheaux called Scott a friend and said he has no doubt the latter will have his team ready for action.

“He’s a great guy who does things the right way,” Robicheaux said. “It’s always hard to go against your friends. It was similar last week, going against (St. Charles Catholic coaches) Frank (Monica), Wayne Stein and Ty Monica and all those guys. Marcus has been with us the past two years and had a lot of success here. It’ll be emotional, but at 7 o’clock Friday night, it’s football. Hopefully we can beat him and shake his hand after.”

In last week’s 31-3 win at home over St. Charles Catholic, Emery rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns. J.R. Blood passed for 164 yards and a touchdown pass to Quinton Torbor.  Alex Huszar racked up 6.5 tackles while Dontrell Smith intercepted a pass.

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