You might forgive Destrehan head coach Stephen Robicheaux for self-admittedly finding it difficult to completely let go of his team’s 24-8 loss at St. Charles Catholic last week — he simply hasn’t had much practice at it over the past few years.
In fact, this week marked the first time since 2012 Robicheaux and his staff have been tasked with preparing his team to take the field in the immediate wake of a loss: Destrehan had not tasted defeat in its previous 39 regular season games, meaning the Wildcats’ previous four losses from 2013-2016 were each season enders.
“People can say what they want, the 24 hour rule and all of that, but (the loss) still sticks in your mind,” Robicheaux said. “Our focus shifts to John Ehret now, and we’ll see what we’re made of, how we bounce back from adversity.
“Obviously, though, it doesn’t get any easier.”
Destrehan (1-1) will indeed welcome a tough foe to town in the form of John Ehret (1-1) this Friday night in a battle of Class 5A championship contenders.
The Patriots certainly set out to test themselves in the season’s early going. Ehret has split their first two matchups after falling at West Monroe week one and besting visiting Hahnville last week. Destrehan will be the third consecutive state power Ehret finds itself matched up against, but this is a Patriots team just two years removed from its own Superdome appearance and one Robicheaux believes could very well be among the last ones standing in the 5A postseason.
“They can hurt you in so many different ways,” Robicheaux said. “(Travis) Mumphrey, their quarterback, he can throw it and he can run it. They’ve got athletes all over the field and that puts you in a position to have to defend the entire field.”
He said it’s been no secret this Ehret team would be a factor.
“(Former Ehret head coach) Corey Lambert was building this team awhile and I know he was really looking forward to it,” Robicheaux said.
Mumphrey is the offensive catalyst. Last week against Hahnville, he passed for 126 yards and a touchdown and kept several drives alive with his legs, helping to key a 46-41 victory in a shootout. Alongside him in the backfield is running back Terrell Brown, who dominated in the redzone as he scored three times last week. At receiver, Jamaal Houston and Lorinzo Penn present major problems downfield for a secondary.
Perhaps what makes Ehret most dangerous, Robicheaux said, is the wealth of size and talent on the team’s offensive line, making each and every one of Ehret’s playmakers that much more dangerous.
“They’re like us in that they spread you out to create matchups, run the ball and get it to your playmakers in space,” Robicheaux said. “When you couple that with the kind of offensive line they have, and it looks like an SEC offensive line, (the skill position players) just need a little seam and they can go.”
Defensively, the Patriots have allowed their share of points this season, all against strong competition, but there is certainly no lack of talent on that side of the football.
“Their defensive line is so big and physical,” Robicheaux said. “They’ll blow you off the ball and wreak havoc. They’re very athletic at linebacker. This is probably going to be one of their years. We can’t afford to lapse in any of the three phases.”
For Destrehan, their daunting opponent is one part of the equation; the other is finding a way to correct the issues that lead to the loss at St. Charles Catholic.
The Comets were led by backup quarterback Sutton Bourgeois in that game, who was playing in place of the team’s standout quarterback Lloyd Nash. SCC made up for Nash’s loss with a strong running game, a steady effort from Bourgeois and a stout defensive night. Destrehan turned the ball over five times in the game, including twice in the opening quarter off of mishandled punts.
“We had some miscues early and gave them great field position, but that wasn’t the key. The bottom line was they made plays and we didn’t,” said Robicheaux. “They played lights out on defense. We played well in spots, but in other spots we didn’t play well, and against a team like that you can’t make mistakes. They outplayed us, outhustled us and outcoached us.”
SCC running back Narquez Jones rushed for more than 170 yards, allowing St. Charles to control the ball and keep the Wildcats offense on the sideline and out of rhythm.
Two fumbled punts in the first quarter set up the Comets’ first two scores, the first by Randall Campbell and the second by Jones. SCC took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
J.R. Blood’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Torbor represented Destrehan’s lone touchdown on the night.
“They did a tremendous job defensively. Just a bunch of guys flying to the ball,” Robicheaux said. “It seemed like whenever we got a little momentum, we made a mistake, a turnover, a penalty, and they got it back. We’ve got to do a better job getting our kids ready.”