Destrehan lies in the weeds ahead of playoff test versus Barbe
When you are a traditional power with skins on the wall, it is hard to sneak up on opponents.
Still, that is what Destrehan hopes to continue to do.
While expectations were high as always entering the season, the Wildcats did not follow the usual script early on.
A surprising 24-8 loss to Division III power St. Charles Catholic sent shockwaves through the Destrehan faithful. Despite the superb history of the Comets, fans of the 5A Wildcats expected their team to beat a lower classification school.
Two weeks later, Destrehan fell to rival Hahnville 20-13, ending a five-game win streak against the Tigers and leaving the Wildcats at a mediocre 2-2 through four games.
While observers and media moved on to focus on other potential contenders in Class 5A, Wildcats head coach Steve Robicheaux focused on regaining the excellence of a program which won state titles in 2007 and 2008 and went to the final in 2014 and the semifinals a year ago, as well as in 2013.
It was not easy.
Injuries to star running back John Emery, his backup and star receiver Quinton Torbor set the Wildcats back.
Undaunted, the eighth-seeded Wildcats have ripped off seven consecutive victories, including a 33-14 victory over 25th-seed Alexandria in the opening round of the playoffs.
Junior quarterback J.R. Blood has come on strong in the second half of the season. Emery, who underwent surgery for a broken hand which he injured in a week six 35-34 win at East St. John, has not played since but could possibly play this Friday night when the Wildcats host a dangerous ninth-seed in Barbe at 7 p.m. Sophomore Kyle Edwards has stepped up in his absence.
“J.R. has played with more confidence in the second half of the season,” Robicheaux said. “He’s doing a good job for us. He made some great throws against Alexandria. John has another doctor’s appointment Wednesday. We’ll see what the doctor says then.”
Senior C.B. Anderson and freshman Quincy Brown have stepped up at wide receiver while Torbor is back. He caught a touchdown pass in the win over Alexandria. Junior Carson Reider and sophomore Joseph Washington also caught touchdown passes against the Trojans.
“Our kids have really done a great job,” Robicheaux said. “I’m really excited about the way we’ve been playing the last few weeks. Obviously, it was a tough loss against Hahnville but the kids have bounced back with seven in a row. It’s been a good second half of the year. We had tough injuries to our top two running backs but our guys got us through. Kyle’s done a good job for us. We hope John is back. Our offensive line has played well and we’ve played pretty good defense.”
The Buccaneers (10-1) are a formidable opponent.
Barbe has lost only to Acadiana. The Bucs are a scoring machine, averaging 44.6 points per game. Barbe crushed 24th-seed Parkway 52-6 in the opening round of the playoffs a week ago. The Bucs have a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in seniors Jaivan Samuel and Dana Fontenot. Junior Luke Richard guides the Barbe offense while junior Aiden Smith is a top receiver. Senior Jarden James returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown in the win over Parkway.
“Coach Mike Cutrera does a great job,” Robicheaux said. “They are real physical, they are big up front, They have two 1,000 yard rushers. Their quarterback does a great job managing the game. They take advantage of little short passes and keep the sticks moving. They are going to be tough to stop. Defensively, they have one of the biggest nose guards anywhere in the middle. They play a form of a 3-3 defense and make you run more to the outside. It will be a formidable task for us.”
There is history with the two programs most recently.
Destrehan dismissed Barbe 52-27 in the second round of the 2015 playoffs.
“That was a good performance by our team but that was two years ago,” Robicheaux said. “This is a different season.”
Destrehan was a top-seed a year ago and in 2007 and was the second-seed when the Wildcats won it all in 2008. Expectations are clearly not as high this postseason by observers but that is not the case at Destrehan.
“It’s still Destrehan High School,” Robicheaux said. “Expectations are always high here. Our kids have bought in and done a tremendous job the second half of the year. We just keep telling them that in the 5A bracket that it’s anybody’s game and why can’t it be us? I think the kids understand that and they’ve done a great job practicing and performing. I hope we can continue and win a couple of more games.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…