At Destrehan, it’s a matter of reloading, almost never rebuilding. The Wildcats entered the spring with a need to address some turnover on both sides of the ball, but a heralded group of young players showed their ability during the team’s 10 days of spring practice work. Destrehan wrapped up their spring last week with a two touchdowns to none scrimmage victory at Covington.
Destrehan played the scrimmage without top returning rusher John Emery, who was held out for precautionary reasons as he nurses an injury. But fellow tailbacks Kyle Edwards and Ed’Juan Green each stepped in to score the scrimmage’s only touchdowns, and the DHS offensive linemen showed that while some names have changed, they intend to remain a force.
“I thought we played well and I thought our kids handled it real well,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “Emery was out, but we know what he can do. We wanted to see what everyone else could do. We had a chance to play a lot of young kids and they did a good job.”
Edwards gained 80 yards on six carries to lead the Wildcats.
Robicheaux noted the line, led by returning starter Samson Matthews and fellow senior Brandon Oubre, who got significant experience last season, is one of the smaller line groups the team has put on the field in a long time. Even so, he added there’s plenty to like about the group, noting their physicality.
“They’re guys who get after it,” Robicheaux said. “They’ll give our backs a crease and they stay on you, and that was evidenced by the success we had running the ball. They handled themselves in the trenches. We made some mistakes as an offensive team that hurt some drives, but those things can be fixed. I know our kids will buy in and get it done.”
J.R. Blood is set to enter his first full season as starter, after he stepped into the starting lineup as a sophomore following a midseason injury to Kohen Granier. Robicheaux said Blood is still learning, but that “the playbook is open, now,” indicating the team will place more responsibility on him and give him more freedom in his junior year.
Defensively, some youth and inexperience will have to be served, but as with the offensive line, Robicheaux was also pleased with the intensity shown on that side of the ball. Linebackers Macon Clark, Alex Huszar and Rob Hall help comprise the most experienced unit on the team, with Hall moving over from the secondary.
Clark, Robicheaux said, had an excellent spring game. He is in his second season at outside linebacker after converting from safety.
“He’s so versatile, he allows you to do a lot of things,” Robicheaux said. “I liked the way (Hall and Huszar) played as well.”
The Wildcats were a state semifinalist in 2016. Destrehan hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2012, and for that streak to continue, Robicheaux cautioned there’s still plenty of work to do — though the coach clearly likes this group.
“I’m excited about way the guys played and about the work we got done this spring,” Robicheaux said. “I’m looking forward to the summer and having the chance to clean some things up.”