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Destrehan more than familiar with defending champion Zachary

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  • George Becnel
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  • November 29, 2018 - 4:52pm

Zachary quarterback Keilon Brown will be one of the key Broncos that Destrehan will have to contain in its battle with the defending champions in Friday's Class 5A semifinals.

After having played in Week 10, Destrehan and Terrebonne were more than familiar with each other in last week’s Class 5A quarterfinals.

So familiar, second-seeded Destrehan managed to eke out only a 3-0 lead at halftime against the visiting Tigers.

“I think both teams were trying to feel each other out,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux.

It was a far cry from the Week 10 encounter when the Wildcats scored on their first seven possession on their way to claiming the District 7-5A time with a resounding 49-20 triumph.

After the initial feeling-out period of the quarterfinal matchup, the Wildcats scored on their opening possession of the second half to build a 10-0 on Destrehan’s way to a 31-14 victory.

“We got down there a couple of times and had some holding calls that kind of took of out of field positions (in the first half) but in the second half, we just decided to be smart and start running the ball and John just (Emery) kind of took it over. We did some good things in the second half and were able to pull away and get a big win,” explained Robicheaux.

Emery, named the top prep running back in the county by ESPN, totaled 201 yards on the ground and four touchdowns, three coming in the second half as the Wildcats pulled away.

The Wildcats (12-1) didn’t need a previous game to be familiar with their semifinal opponent. Destrehan will host defending champion Zachary (11-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.

Zachary, the No. 6 seed, defeated Hahnville, Destrehan’s St. Charles Parish and district rival, in last year’s state championship 34-14.

Like most everyone, the Wildcats know the Broncos are led offensively by junior quarterback Keion Brown, the Most Valuable Player of last season’s championship game.

“He’s just a dual-threat guy that doesn’t make a whole lot of bad decisions. They will not beat themselves. They are well-coached. They have great skill guys. They are probably the fastest guys we have seen on the field in a long time,” said Robicheaux.

Many of the speedy guys make up Zachary’s receiving corps.

“They have T’quarius Johnson and Chandler Whitfield, who 5-8, 155, and just makes spectacular catches and he looks like ESPN highlight just watching on film. Chris Hilton, a sophomore, can fly, and he makes great catches. Jayden Williams is a big-time player as a receiver,” Robicheaux.

When Zachary faced Hahnville again, this time in the second round of the playoffs two weeks ago, R.J. Allen, playing in place of an injured Kyle Landry, rushed for 149 on 24 carries and four touchdowns.

“He’s a hard runner. He runs behind those big linemen and they form a crease for him,” Robicheaux said of Allen.

Other than one 210 pounder, all of the Zachary’s other offensive linemen are 270 pounds or more. Four are senior starters.

“They have a big offensive line. They do a good job of firing off the ball and creating holes, not only for the running back, but you also have to worry about the quarterback. The offense is around him running the quarterback(isolation), quarterback counter and stuff like that,” said Robicheaux,

Still, it comes down to dealing with Zachary’s speed, according to Robicheaux.

“They have a great scheme. They will put a whole lot of pressure on the whole field. You can’t just bottle them up in the middle of the field. You have to defend the entire field because they have speed everywhere,” the Destrehan coach said.

Defensively, the Broncos are lined up in a 4-3 or 4-2-5 alignment.

“You will see both, depending on what you give them offensively,” Robicheaux pointed out.

Like on offense, Zachary is big at the line of scrimmage on defense.

“Their front line is just ridiculous with Elijah Hill, Hunter Belle, Caleb Jackson and Cedric Brown. They are just big, physical kids that can run. They give people fits because they are coming at you. They are real hard to block,” said Robicheaux.

Maverick McClure, known for a stellar performance in last year’s state championship game, has been nursing an injury and his status for Friday’s game is questionable.

Wes Brady and Taylor Milton are other linebackers, while the strong safety is Kenyon Martin.

Behind them is a speedy secondary.

“There is so much speed in the back with Sean Burrell, who I think can fly. Tyler Judson and the free safety is Kaleb Knighten,” said Robicheaux.

With all the speed and talent at skilled positions possessed by both teams, it should make for a classic encounter on Friday.

“It’s the semifinals,” Robicheaux said. “This is what you can expect. You will have great teams. I think it’s an intriguing matchup. It should be a fun one to watch. I think the fans will get their money’s worth Friday night because I think it’s two really good football teams that will be battling to try and slow each other’s offense down.”

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.