Destrehan clears semifinal hurdle with 21-6 victory over Westgate

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DESTREHAN – Marcus Scott has worked in the coaching profession for a long time.

The Destrehan head coach has worked to build several programs into successful ones in the state of Louisiana. His journey sometimes was rough but Scott has had some great opportunities in his career. Destrehan has been his best opportunity.

This year, the third-seeded Wildcats wanted to clear the state semifinal hurdle and reach the floor of the Ceasars Superdome for an opportunity for a state championship. Two previous semifinal round defeats for Scott and his Wildcats still sting. It wouldn’t come easy this go-round against reigning state champions Westgate.

Head Coach Ryan Antoine broke through a lot of barriers to lead the Tigers to win the Class 4A title last season. His young team came in hot as a No. 10 seed with nothing to lose in the LHSAA Division I Non-Select tilt.

The burden was clearly on Destrehan but the home team pulled through for a 21-6 semifinal victory Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.

Destrehan (13-0) came out of the gates strong with 90-yard drive spanning nine plays. Jai Eugene Jr. dropped a 45-yard bomb to Leslie Jefferson on the first play from of scrimmage and connected with Johnny Thiel IV for a 19-yard gain to the four-yard line. Shane Lee punched it in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown to lift the Wildcats to an early 7-0 lead.

Eugene was 7 of 12 passing for 105 yards plus 17 carries for 84 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

“I’m just trusting my guys. I got three sophomore wide receivers, running back and offensive line. I couldn’t do it without them,” said Eugene. “We’ve got to win the last one and this is all I ever wanted.”

Westgate (9-4) did not fold on defense after the early blow. Derek Williams hauled in an interception off Eugene at midfield. Then on offense, he scored a three-yard touchdown, cutting the Destrehan lead to 7-6 at the half.

The Wildcats defense refused to break in the second half. In fact, that unit helped seal the deal.

Kevin Adams picked off Jaboree Antoine and returned it for a 41-yard touchdown to give Destrehan a 14-6 edge.

A game-clinching touchdown drive of 66 yards on seven plays burned off half of the fourth quarter clock. Lee had four straight carries totaling 44 yards, and Eugene finished it off with a one-yard touchdown.

Destrehan ended the game with an interception by Lynard Harris.

“We worked hard as a team getting to the Dome. We want to win and we want a ring this year,” said Lee. “I had to step up for the team. We’re going to treat this like another game and we got to win.”

Destrehan finished with 297 yards of total offense including 192 on the ground. Lee led the Wildcats with 20 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown.

In reaching his first LHSAA final, Scott also made history as the first African-American head coach to lead a St. Charles Parish football program to a state title game.

“Anybody who puts their heart and soul into something, also staying with it, they finally believe in themselves that things are going to happen. It took 20 years to get to that one game and we finally finished it,” said Scott. “The assistant coaches and the players had an outstanding focus on our walkthrough. I had a feeling that we were ready to play.”

Westgate had 159 yards of total offense with 115 rushing yards. Antoine led the Tigers with 12 carries for 63 yards while going 5 of 13 through the air for 44 yards and two interceptions. Tavais Gordon finished with 12 carries for 44 yards.

Antoine was filled with emotions after the game. Westgate made a statement with another deep playoff run that they are a state power. The Tigers also return plenty of experienced talent going into next season.

“Our kids fought and gave their best shot against a strong Destrehan team. It’s frustrating and it hurts that these kids won’t have an opportunity to play another Friday together,” said Antoine. “We try to give the community a good show and our community needs this. Our community goes through enough and we’re kind of been that light. It’s something they look forward to on Friday night. Westgate is here to stay and we’re not an anomaly. We’re going to be here for a while.”

Destrehan moves on to the Division I Non-Select State Championship next Friday night at 7 p.m. to face top-seeded Ruston at the Caesars Superdome.

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