When Destrehan defeated Terrebonne 49-20 last week to show they were again the kingpins of District 7-5A, the Wildcats had more than a league title in mind.
“We had been preaching to our kids all week it was more important to keep the No. 2 ranking instead of that district championship,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “We didn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on it. We just wanted to win the game since it’s the next one. It allowed us to get a pretty good draw in the playoffs. That was our main focus.”
The draw indeed includes the No. 2 seed. The Wildcats will host Hammond, the No. 31 seed on Friday in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs. Beyond that, the positioning places Destrehan on the opposite side of the bracket from perennial power West Monroe. Additionally, the No. 2 seed means the Wildcats would be at home for the semifinals should Destrehan advance that far into the playoffs.
Destrehan went into last Friday’s game with Terrebonne 8-1. The Tigers were unbeaten and both teams were 5-0 in district play. Although the league title showdown came a week before the start of postseason, Robicheaux said he doesn’t think his team will suffer from any letdown.
“Hopefully, they will come out there and know that Hammond has won a few games and they are a quality opponent and we have to be ready to play. It’s a new season. It’s the playoffs and I don’t think we will have any trouble at all getting focused and being able to do what we need to do to be successful,” the Destrehan coach said.
Hammond goes into the game 6-4 after posting 1-9 seasons each of the previous two years.
“It’s the first time they have been in the playoffs since 2007 and they will be excited. The kids will be excited. Every person I’ve talked to said their defense is pretty legit,” said Robicheaux.
The Tornadoes’ top defender is Tyrone Lewis.
“They kind of play him anywhere. They put him on the line of scrimmage. He’s a strong safety and they will play him at free safety. They will blitz him. When they come off the edge, they will put him at linebacker,” Robicheaux explained.
The Tornadoes possess a lot of team speed on defense, according to Robicheaux.
“They run to the ball real well,” Robicheaux said. “They will try to lock you up man-to-man and they cause a lot of problems for you.
“They are a base 4-3 team and will give you a little three-man look up front sometimes. They want to stay in their 4-3 and come after you.”
The most points the Hammond defense has allowed came in a 26-7 loss to Slidell.
When you look at their scores, there are not a whole lot of scores. Not a lot of people have scored a lot of points on them. The most points is 26 (in 26-7 loss to Slidell).
“I like their linebackers and the way they run to the ball, especially Floyd Green,” said Robicheaux.
Other top defenders include cornerbacks Azayha Scott, at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, and 5-foot-8, 165-pound Arthur Ashton.
“They are not the biggest cornerbacks but they are fast and they run to the ball,” Robicheaux said.
The Tornadoes run a version of the Wing-T on offense.
“They have Wing-T tendencies but not a true Wing-T team. I think that will help us as far as preparing for them. It’s not like a traditional offense where you just have to line up and play. They give you multiple formations and they do a good job of trying to get the edge. Our kids will have to be real focused to make sure we are doing the things we need to do and that we are in the right place,” Robicheaux explained.
The Wildcats, said Robicheaux, have faced bigger offensive lines than the one they will see Friday night.
“They are not as big as we are used to facing at the guard and center positions. I would imagine they will try to do a lot of stuff outside and we have to be ready for that. They run a little sweep where the quarterback pitches the ball to the back coming around in motion,” said Robicheaux.
Marnell Davis, who plays a lot from the slot formation, is a guy the Tornadoes try to get the ball to when they want to run outside. Quarterback Kevin Primus is another threat on the outside.
Edward Ratcliff and Jy’rell Oliver are usually in the backfield when Hammond goes to a two-back set on offense.
“When they throw the ball, they are looking for either Donovan Flemons or Kenny Bell. Ethan Wells does a good job on the perimeter and carries the ball a few times, also,” Robicheaux said of the Hammond receivers.
The Wildcats, Robicheaux said, are playing their best football heading into the playoffs.
“I think defensively, we are starting to get it,” the Destrehan coach said. “If you were going to tell me we were going to hold Terrebonne to 13 points, I would have called you crazy. They got one (score) on our second team, but to hold those guys down like we did, that was pretty good. Those three guys they have (Ja’khi Douglas, Keshawn James and Chaz Ward) were pretty special. Of course, John Emery looked like a five-star running back Friday night, Quincy Brown and everybody played great and J.R. (Blood) played lights out. If you can get that in the playoffs and you can get hot in the playoffs, hopefully, you can win a few games.”