Though Destrehan was able to knock off Lutcher 21-13 in the Ed Reed River Parishes Jamboree on Friday, Wildcat head coach Stephen Robicheaux felt like his team took a step back due to a plethora of penalties committed during the game– two of which negated scores.
“We had too many penalties and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which are uncharacteristic of a Destrehan football team,” Robicheaux said. “We’ve got to get better at not making mental mistakes.”
Hopefully, the Wildcats got those mistakes out of the way before kicking off the season Friday against West Jefferson.
Despite the penalties, Destrehan showed enough big-play ability against Lutcher to give West Jeff a lot to worry about. Junior wide receiver John Williams returned a punt 42 yards for a score and senior receiver Kirk Merritt broke through for a 21-yard touchdown run.Destrehan also added a score on defense, with cornerback Austin Dickerson returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
“The kids played hard and we played a good football team in Lutcher, who is always well coached,” Robicheaux said. “We just have to get better at the mental aspect.”
Last year, Destrehan set the tone for an explosive season by thumping West Jeff 54-21 to start the year. The Wildcats finished the season 13-1 and came one win away from an appearance in the Class 5A state championship game. To pull off a similar victory over West Jeff this season, the Wildcats will need to corral Buccaneer running back David Carter.
“He is quick and agile,” Robicheaux said of Carter. “He makes their offense go and we are going to have to contain him.”
West Jeff also starts a big quarterback in 6-foot-4 Coley Ransaw. In last week’s 18-7 jamboree loss to Shaw, Ransaw was 13-for-22 for 187 yards and a touchdown. The Buccaneers return their two starting receivers from last year in Kevin Crayton and Bruce Houston.
“Their quarterback does a good job of getting the ball to Carter, but they also have two good receivers,” Robicheaux said. “They are not big up front, but they have a lot of good athletes and they are able to exploit defenses.
“We have to stay disciplined and contain the quarterback and running back. If we do that, we will be alright.”
Offensively, Robicheaux will stick to the game plan that helped his team win 13 games last season by getting the ball to one of Destrehan’s many playmakers in space.
Besides Merritt and Williams, the Wildcats also boast one of the best running backs in the state in Will Matthews. Receiver Alfred Smith returns this year after leading the team in receiving yards as a junior.
But the key to the game will be controlling the line of scrimmage.
“On offense we have to establish the line of scrimmage and run the football. On defense we have to control the line of scrimmage, stop the run and force them to throw the ball,” Robicheaux said.
The Wildcats will get to open the season in the friendly confines of Wildcat Stadium, which Robicheaux called a huge plus.
“Our guys have a comfort level at home and you don’t have to worry about everything that goes along with taking a team on the road,” Robicheaux said. “The guys are going to come out of our locker room and play on the turf that they practice on every day.”
The game is scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m.