Wins by identical scores of 35-34 over East St. John the last two years seem to indicate Destrehan has little room for error when the teams meet Friday in Destrehan.
Both teams are 4-2 overall and 1-1 in District 7-5A play.
For Destrehan, losses of 31-24 to St. James and 30-22 to Terrebonne have come after mistakes caused the team to fall behind early and a spot in the Top 10.
“Both situations, we had a chance to win the game and didn’t, that’s the one part that concerns me more than anything – especially this past week, we get a safety and then we get the ball back and just can’t get it done,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “I have to do a better job of putting us in position to win a game and actually get it done.
“There are some mistakes that were made that we are evaluating that we need to be better at. That’s one me and we will get it done.”
“I just think the inexperience is starting to show a little bit. I think as the guys get more experience, I think we will be better,” Robicheaux said.
Destrehan becomes even younger with nagging knee and ankle injuries to senior quarterback Damaruis Jackson. With Jackson hobbling, freshman Jai Eugene has seen action as the team’s signal caller.
“I think Jai Eugene is going to be phenomenal but he’s still a freshman,” said Robicheaux.
Like Destrehan, East St. John has athletes all over the field, starting with senior quarterback Sean Shelby.
“I really like their quarterback. I haven’t seen a quarterback throw the out route like he does,” Robicheaux said of Shelby.
Be it out routes or any other pass plays, Shelby has a lot of targets at his disposal.
“They have receivers all over the field. They have Dontae Fleming that they really like. Also, Alonzo Porter, Markel August. A guy they have been playing a little bit at receiver is Amari Bernard. He’s a big kid at 6-2,” said Robicheaux.
Having a breakout year for East St. John is junior Rydell Jackson, who can line up anywhere on the field.
“He just seems to be making plays all over the field. They have him returning kicks and everything else,” pointed out Robicheaux.
The ESJ running game also is in good hands.
“I really like Calvin Gardner. He’s a big, tough running back,” Robicheaux said.
A big East St. John offensive line is anchored by Jakobi Anderson, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound senior.
ESJ also is talented along its defensive front.
“You look at them defensively, Welland Williams and Jackie Marshall, those two guys are big-time players. Welland Williams is a big kid in the middle. Marshall, I think, is really good,” said Robicheaux.
The Destrehan coach well remembers another ESJ defender from past battles.
“Trevion Hampton at linebacker gave us fits last year and he’s back,” Robicheaux said.
East St. John features one of the fastest secondary around, according to Robicheaux.
“Shawn Sterling is a good player, Antonio Sanders, Howard Joseph, Amari Bernard, all of them do a great job in the secondary,” the Destrehan coach said.
East St. John, Robicheaux said, is similar to the teams that already have defeated Destrehan this season.
“We will have our hands full. They are the type of team that beat us in Terrebonne and the same type of team that beat us in St. James. They have athletes all over the field and have a lot of speed,” he said.
A win over East St. John, as opposed to losses to St. James and Terrebonne, will come of Destrehan can avoid repeating the mistakes that came in those two defeats, according to Robicheaux.
“Kyle Edwards rushed for 137 yards (against Terrebonne) but he had 90-something called back because of three holding calls,” Robicheaux said. “That can’t happen. That (cost) one touchdown.
“The things that are hurting us right now are fundamental football things we have to do better. Mistakes are being made that we have to fix – tackling, blocking and the basics of football – and I think that will make us better.”