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Destrehan, Jesuit meet in rare late-season non-district encounter

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  • George Becnel
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  • October 25, 2018 - 2:00pm

File photosThe Destrehan Wildcats of coach Stephen Robicheaux take on the Jesuit Blue Jays in non-district action at 6 p.m. Friday at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.


While most of the state will be focused on key district games in Week 9, one of the top non-district games will take place at 6 p.m. Friday at Tad Gormley stadium in New Orleans when Destrehan takes on Jesuit out of the Catholic League.

“It’s just a really, really tough opponent,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “They are probably the best 5-3 team in the state of Louisiana. Their losses are to Warren Easton, John Curtis and Rummel. They beat a good St. Augustine and St. Paul team.

“They are big and physical. They are probably the most physical team we will face all year. They have three guys in Perry Ganci, Owen Melville and Sonny Hazard that are ridiculous. They are big guys that play great technique and it allows them to play three-man front and that helps the back end. It’s tough to run on those guys. They can cause some big problems for us.”

The defense quickly caught the eye of the Destrehan coach on film.

Along with Ganci, Melville and Hazard up front, Robicheaux also singled out the play of three other top defenders at linebacker.

“They have Marc Dougherty, who’s 230, they have Matthew Sauvic, who’s 210, and Roman Bankson,
who’s 210. You have guys in there that are big, stout guys that are hard to move,” Robicheaux said.

Getting the ball past those initial defenders will be a key for the Wildcats, according to Robicheaux.

“We will definitely have to try to get the ball in the secondary and try to make some plays. I think that’s one of the advantages we will have is to spread those guys out and try to make a play on the perimeter,” the Destrehan coach said.

Destrehan, ranked No. 4 in Class 5A and No. 5 in the power ratings, is coming off a 47-0 domination of Central Lafourche.

Jesuit hold the No. 5 power rating in Division I and is coming off a 28-0 win over Shaw.

Jesuit’s offensive line consists of a number of players in the 260-270-pound range, including the likes of Jacob Kieff, Max McMahon, Jack Juge, Brian Balestra, and Patrick Motes.

Even tight end Zach Charneco tips the scales at 245 pounds.

“It will be can we handle their size up front. I think that will be the key. Hopefully, we can create some lanes to run the ball and get past that front line and into the secondary. Hopefully, we can wear them down a little bit in the second half and have some success running the football,” Robicheaux explained.

Jesuit’s quarterback is Robert McMahon.

“He is a tough, gritty kid. He throws the ball well but he also likes to run the ball a lot,” said Robicheaux.

One of the Blue Jays’ top runners is Brayton Whittington.

“He’s 190 pounds and he runs behind that offensive line and it’s three yards and a cloud of dust. They will just take what you give them,” Robicheaux said.

Also at running back is Willie Robinson.

“The key for us is we will have to move our defensive line and kind of hope we create some gaps in there and make some plays in the backfield,” said Robicheaux.

The most spectacular of the Blue Jays, Robicheaux said, is receiver Noah Varnado.

“It’s ridiculous. He’s an ESPN highlight reel. He makes tremendous catches and catches everything that comes to him. He’s a guy we have to be aware of where he is on the field at all times,” the Destrehan coach said.

Although it is not a league game, a lot is still on the line for the Wildcats.

“The thing that concerns me the most is the physical-ness of the game in Week 9. In Week 10, you will be playing for a district championship against Terrebonne,” Robicheaux said.

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.