A defensive stand to keep No. 2 seed West Monroe from taking a possible lead late in the contest and a game-winning field goal by Will Bryant on the final play of the game last week sent Destrehan to the Class 5A semifinals.
That’s something that might not have happened at the mid-point of the season when the Wildcats’ fortunes seemed not so promising when a stretch of three losses in four games left Destrehan 4-3 on the season.
“You go from 4-3 and all of a sudden, you are in the semifinals. It’s just a testament to the kids for believing and sticking to the process and the coaches doing a tremendous job of keeping this team together. I’m real excited with the way the kids are play and where we’re at,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said.
Back at 4-3 when the ball just didn’t seem to bounce Destrehan’s way, the fourth-quarter stop or the game-winning kick might not have happened.
“Just to put it all in perspective, as big as the kick was the fumbled snap over the punter’s head and our guys to not let them in the end zone right there was unbelievable and l think that was special to keep that game tied at 17-17 and have a shot at going just one down and go down and kick a field goal to win it,” said Robicheaux.
“Will Bryant is a good kicker and l had no second doubts at all about him kicking the field goal,” the Destrehan coach continued. “We put him on the right hash, and like he said, ‘one, two, kick,’ and the kids did a good job. It was a good snap by Noah (Taliancich) and good hold by Tyler (Morton) and a good kick. The guys did a good job of blocking and we get to keep playing.”
The Wildcats, the No. 7 seed, not only get to keep playing, they get to be at home when they host Haughton, the No. 11 seed, on Friday night in Destrehan. The Buccaneers advanced to the semifinals with a 34-14 win over Mandeville, the No. 19 seed.
Against Haughton, the Wildcats’ task will be to contain quarterback Peyton Stovall, according to Robicheaux.
“They are very athletic. It starts with Peyton Stovall, their quarterback. He’s an Arkansas commit in baseball, so you know he’s a heck of an athlete,” the Destrehan coach said.
Stovall has numerous options when throwing the football.
“He’s got great receivers around him. C.J. McWilliams does a great job. He is a Louisiana Tech commitment. Matthew Whitten is 6-2 kid who catches the ball over the middle. He’s a great possession receiver,” said Robicheaux.
Another target is Elijah Rochon.
How much a factor Tristan Sweeney maybe be, Robicheaux said, remains to be seen.
“He used to be the guy early. He got hurt. He tore his knee. From what we’ve been reading, it looks like he’s back but he has a big brace on his knee,” noted Robicheaux.
The Buccaneers’ top running back is Keyshawn Davis
“They do a really good job of running the football with Keyshawn Davis. He’s a guy that’s got good moves,” Robicheaux said.
The offensive line consists of the likes of Tyler Vogan, Knoa Reid, Peyton Polk, Solon Culver, and Dakota Ahlstrom.
Haughton’s spread attack, Robicheaux said, reminds him of a team the Wildcats faced earlier in the season.
“They kind of remind we athletically of Thibodaux with a lot of athletic receivers and good quarterback,” said Robicheaux.
Up front on defense for Haughton is Khaylon Chapple.
Other defensive linemen include tackle Cade Ebarb and nose guard Thad Clawson.
“They do a good job of trying to play guys in the three-man front if they can. If not, they will walk their two safeties down,” said Robicheaux.
Brian Feaster and Dylan Turner are the guys the Buccaneers sometimes walk down.
The inside linebackers are Season Hardison and Jake St. Andre.
Haughton’s secondary includes a pair of twin brothers, Jonathan and Jacob Stephens. Jonathan is a cornerback and Jacob is a safety.
Rounding out the secondary are Logan Wilkerson at safety and Dylan Frazier.
Haughton enters the game 11-2 on the season with wins over the likes of East Ascension, Byrd and Mandeville. The Buccaneers’ two losses were to Airline and Captain Shreve.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats go into the game 10-3, not having lost since the infamous 4-3 mark, and in the improbable position of hosting a semifinal contest.
“Sometimes in this profession, the stars just have to be lined up,” said Robicheaux. “The biggest thing for us was Covington defeating Sam Houston. That kind of set it up for us where we travelled to Covington in the second round where you only have an hour drive and we were able to win that game. That set us up for a home game against West Monroe, the No. 2 team, and we happened to win that one.
“It just so happens the No. 11 seed makes it all the way through the bracket and we are higher than them, so we get them at home. You can’t predict something like that. I guess you can say the football gods are shining on us, and hopefully, we have a couple more in us.”