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Destrehan faces Terrrebonne again with Class 5A semifinals at stake

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 21, 2018 - 7:03am

File photoDestrehan's Stephen Robicheaux (right) and Terrebonne's Gary Hill we see their teams meet again on Friday night, this time in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux and his Wildcats are well aware of the pitfalls of having to play a team for the second time in a season.

In a Week 10 meeting between the teams to decide the District 7-5A championship, Robicheaux’s Wildcats had an easy time showing who was the league’s top ’Cats as Destrehan defeated Gary Hill’s Tigers 49-20.

“You don’t like to play a team you played before for a number of reasons,” Robicheaux said. “For one, we had a pretty good game against them and you are worried about our kids and their focus and so forth. We can tell that the outcome won’t be the same this week because they will do a better job. They left some plays out there the last time we played and I know Gary will clean that stuff up and they will be ready to play. If you are not ready to play and focused all week, you are not going to get it done.

“Coach (Greg) Boyne did a tremendous job against them the last time and you can’t go back with that stuff because he’s already shown it. That kind of makes it a little bit of a bad deal.”

The Wildcats have fared quite well when battling a team in the playoffs for the second time in a season.

Since 2013, Destrehan has played four times in the playoffs against foes it has faced in the regular season, with the Wildcats winning all the regular season and playoff contests.

Terrebonne has been on the losing end two previous years. The Tigers lost 42-17 to Destrehan in the 2013 regular season and 44-0 in the playoffs. Terrebonne and Destrehan squared off twice again in 2016. Destrehan won the regular-season game 44-17 and 47-7 in the opening round of the playoffs.

Since the Week 10 encounter three weeks ago, Destrehan has gone on to blank Hammond 22-0 and defeat Landry-Walker 31-26 in the opening two round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Terrebonne, meanwhile, has rebounded from the loss to Destrehan with a 24-22 squeaker over Chalmette and last week’s 35-14 victory over Ouachita Parish in which the Tigers scored 27 unanswered points in the first half.

Leading the Terrebonne offense is Ja’Khi Douglas.

“He’s the guy they will start at quarterback. He can throw the ball but he’s an extremely fast kid. He’s an SEC type kid that can run the ball and he can hurt you throwing it. They line him up at quarterback and run the zone read with him and they also will line him up in the slot when Keshawn James goes to quarterback. They will run him in the speed sweeps,” Robicheaux explained.

Douglas and James are virtually interchangeable but James didn’t see quite as much action at quarterback against Ouachita Parish while dealing with some nagging injuries.

“He definitely doesn’t look as fast. It looks like there was definitely an injury situation,” Robicheaux said of James.

Helping fill the void on offense against Ouachita Parish was Anthony Ruffin. A starter in the defensive secondary, Ruffin had two offensive touchdowns while adding an interception and a sack on defense.

“He’s a defensive back but they brought him in and ran the ball a little bit. I think Keshawn James is kind of hurt a little bit. I don’t know how bad that is going to be for those guys,” said Robicheaux.

The Tigers have a bruising running back in 6-foot, 205-pound Chaz Ward.

“He’s a load,” Robicheaux said of Ward. “You have to hopefully get him running sideline to sideline because if he gets north and south on you, he’s hard to bring down.”

One of the Tigers’ top receiving targets is Treveon Johnson.

“Johnson is big at 6-3, 195. They will line him up at linebacker and different places of the field and do a good job of trying to get him the football,” said Robicheaux.

“Keith Robinson is a defensive back who also sees action at receiver for Terrebonne.

Terrebonne’s 3-3 Stack defense is anchored by all-district linebacker Cullen Butler in the middle.

“He kind of makes them go,” said Robicheaux.

Helping to clog the middle is 6-foot-4, 276-pound defensive tackle Maason Smith.

Other top defenders include Will Robinson, Cody Clement and Dillion Babin.

Playing a team you may have faced earlier in the season is one thing, but taking on an opponent you faced only three weeks ago late in the season is another matter, according to Robicheaux.

“If you would have played them in Week 2, you probably would have gotten a different football team. You are probably not playing as well as you would normally play (later in the season). I think Week 10, both of us were playing our best. That’s pretty much an indication of what good teams do; they play well at the end of the year. I think we got their best and we were able to beat them once, and hopefully, we can come back and do it again,” the Destrehan coach said.

While the Wildcats will attempt to tweak things a bit from their earlier encounter with Terrebonne, Week 13 is not the time to vary from what has worked all year long, said Robicheaux.

“You would think 80 percent of your game is what you do already. You never get away from that. When you are thinking about football, it’s repetition and you will do the things you are good at. We will do that. We have our package, but we spent all day Sunday trying to find little wrinkles to put them in a bad situation and try to get them outnumbered and do different things. That’s what football is about.”

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.