Destrehan seeks to continue football excellence in 2019

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Destrehan football
(Photo: Stephen Lew)

It has been one of the most consistent programs in Louisiana under Steve Robicheaux.

Despite taking a sabbatical for two years, Robicheaux has had the Wildcats at an elite level throughout his tenure with the Wildcats.

Last season, Destrehan reached the Class 5A semifinals, losing a shootout to eventual repeat champion Zachary 67-57. It was a football game where a basketball game seemed to break out. Defense was optional as offenses were simply unstoppable.

Robicheaux has fashioned a remarkable 177-37 in 17 seasons as head coach at Destrehan, winning nearly 83 percent of his games. He guided the Wildcats to consecutive state titles in 2008-09. He took Destrehan to the championship game in 2014 and has led the Wildcats to semifinal appearances in 2013, 2016 and 2018 and quarterfinal appearances in 2002 and 2015.

Robicheaux is clearly one of the top coaches in Louisiana and his program is one of the best as well.

That level of success may continue in 2019 but it will be with a younger, less experienced team. Only six starters return from a year ago, three on each side of the ball.

“We are very young and inexperienced and need guys to step up,” Robicheaux said. “We got better in the spring and look to continue to improve. We have a chance to be okay.”

Despite the loss to graduation of running back John Emery to LSU, quarterback JR Blood to Southern, wide receiver Quinton Torbor to Mississippi State and Alex Huszar and Dontrell Smith to Southeastern Louisiana, lots of talent remains on hand.

Start with senior running back Kyle Edwards (6-0, 210). Edwards is a top Division I recruit who had a very good season a year ago.

Wide receiver Quincy Brown (6-3, 210) has several SEC offers.

“When you start with Edwards and Brown, you cannot be too bad,” Robicheaux said. “Quincy is comparable to the best. He has all the tools with size, leaping ability, catch radius and the ability to make plays. Kyle is the same type of guy. He works hard and runs downhill. He is perfect for our offensive line. He has the speed you need as well. Razon Keller will compliment Edwards at running back.”

While Edwards and Brown will be asked to make plays, the only other returning starter offensively is lineman Kerwin Mitchell (6-1, 295). The new starters up front include seniors Daniel Hart (6-2, 250), Khyron Victor (5-7, 275) and Preston Madere (5-11, 255). Junior Eli Taffi (5-10, 240) joins them.

“Mitchell is solid and Hart played a lot last year for us,” Robicheaux said. “Hart is very athletic. Eli Taffi will be a good player for us. We feel like this will be a physical bunch and better than a year ago.”

Joining Brown at wide receiver is senior Matt Erwin (5-10, 175) while the tight end is sophomore Wyatt Hayes (6-1, 175).

Perhaps the most important new starter is senior Damarius Jackson (5-8, 175).

“Damarius provides another dimension that we have not had in recent years,” Robicheaux said. “He can run it well and is explosive. He is not big and not a pure passer but he can really make plays for us. We have to utilize his talents in the run game.”

Defensively, lineman Noah Taliancich (6-3, 270) has committed to Tulane and he will anchor the front which includes senior Savion Travis (5-10, 265) and juniors Jennero Scott (6-1, 250) and Michael Jackson (6-2, 215).

“Noah is a guy that we moved him inside and he has done really well,” Robicheaux said. “He is very athletic and we can move him outside if we need to. Travis can be good while Jackson is talented and had a great spring. We like Scott as well. They just need game experience.”

Senior inside linebacker Dylan Whitted (5-8, 185) returns while junior Dylan Gibbs (6-0, 185) is the other starter.

“Whitted is back and he is a tough kid who can strike and run well,” Robicheaux said. “Dylan Gibbs was hurt last year and we get him back. He will be solid for us.”

The secondary will be led by junior Tyler Morton (5-8, 155), a returning starter. Senior Jacob Johnson (6-0, 190) is the strong safety. The corners are senior Cedric Shorts (5-7, 145) and junior Jaden Harding (5-10, 150).

“Morton is a good football player who simply makes plays at free safety,” Robicheaux said. “Jacob Johnson should be good for us as well. Shorts and Harding will be counted on. I like the progress they’ve made but we need game experience. We should be very athletic in the deep.”

Sophomore Will Bryant (5-8, 170) handles kicking duties while junior Ethan Flannery (6-0, 175) is the punter.

The schedule opens at home against Bonnabel on Sept. 6 before a tough road trip to Walker to face a team now coached by Chad Mahaffey, who won back-to-back titles at University Lab the past two years.

Week three finds the Wildcats hosting St. Paul’s before Destrehan travels to St. James on Sept. 27.

“You have to find teams willing to play you,” Robicheaux said. “Bonnabel was willing to play. There have been times when we only played nine games and we are glad to have a full schedule. Walker has great athletes and a good coach who has won it all. St. Paul’s is sound and physical. St. James is always a battle in the river parishes. It is a tough pre-district schedule.”

District 7-5A play opens on Oct. 4 at H.L. Bourgeois before another tough trip to Terrebonne. The Wildcats will host East St. John Oct. 18 before a road trip to Thibodaux. The final two games are at home against Central Lafourche before the closer with rival Hahnville.

“Terrebonne still has great players and will be good,” Robicheaux said. “We had two battles with them last year and they are well coached. Hahnville has good offensive skill and a top defense. East St. John has a very good coaching staff and they are going to be very good. Thibodaux is always a concern. You have to be ready to play. I like the competition and it gets us ready for the playoffs.”

If a young team can grow up early, do not sell Destrehan short of another deep run in the playoffs. Such things are the norm for the Wildcats and Robicheaux.

“It’s nice to be part of a program with high expectations,” Robicheaux said. “We’re very blessed to have such a good program here. It is a pleasure to coach at Destrehan. We know our supporters expect us to win. Our coaches do a great job across the job to make this the best it can be. It is a good place to be.”

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and 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 Football Foundation, College…

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