If Destrehan is to make a return trip to the Class 5A state championship game, the Wildcats will have to go through the team that beat them in the finals a year ago.
Top-ranked Acadiana, meanwhile, is on a quest to repeat as state champions and for the Wreckin’ Rams, they would need a win over Destrehan when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday in Scott.
“They are defending champion for a reason. Both fronts are very good and they are sound in the kicking game. They have really good skilled players. They are pretty much a complete team,” Destrehan coach Marcus Scott said of Acadiana.
The Rams feature a formidable defense, which has been particularly stout in the playoffs.
Acadiana has allowed a total of 21 points through three playoff games with wins of 44-7 over Covington, 42-14 over East Ascension, and 21-0 over Mandeville.
The Rams’ defense held Covington to negative total yards in their playoff opener and 102 yards against Mandeville.
The 14 points allowed against East Ascension was the second-most allowed by Acadiana. The most points the Rams have allowed through 10 games came in a 27-21 loss to Catholic of Baton Rouge.
Of the 14 points allowed against East Ascension, one of the touchdowns came late in the game on a defensive score by the Spartans.
Even the 14 points the Rams allowed were somewhat misleading. East Ascension scored a late defensive touchdown off of a turnover with the game all but over.
The Rams are particularly strong up front with the likes of defensive linemen Walter Bob, Trey Bossier, Cameron George and Kaden Anderson. In addition, Justin Brice is coming off a Mandeville game in which he recorded two of the team’s four sacks.
“Their front seven is probably the strength of their defense. They play well with their hands and they take away what you do best,” said Scott.
The linebacker corps consists of the likes of Derreck Bercier, Caleb Arceneaux, and Chris Celestine.
“They jump off the screen. They work well in conjunction with their defensive. They are really good with their run fits and things of that nature, so they are a very active group,” Scott said.
Ian Montz, a returning all-state player from a year ago, roams the secondary.
“He’s a guy who makes a lot of plays. He’s their punt returner. He’s a big, athletic guy that makes a lot of plays,” said Scott.
Destrehan will be facing another veer offense in Acadiana, but the Rams’ attack is a bit different from the one the Wildcats saw a week ago against Ruston, according to Scott.
“The reads are different for the quarterback. A lot of times when they run the dive, it looks like it’s been called as opposed to be read by the quarterback,” the Destrehan coach explained.
The quarterback is junior Jerimiah Brown, a first-year starter.
“He makes all the checks and gets them in the right play. He does a good job of executing what they want offensively. He’s a very good runner and a capable passer,” Scott noted.
The running backs for the Rams are similar in nature, even coming down to their size. Tyvin Zeno is a 5-foot-0, 185-pound senior, while Omiri Wiggins is a 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior.
“Everybody who runs for them is good. They are fast. They break tackles. They can all do the same thing. They run hard. The run through arm tackles, and they all can score from anywhere on the field,” said Scott.
While the Rams don’t throw the ball much, they feature a veteran group in Christian Hawkins, Braven Broussard, and Rodney Bearb.
“They usually throw the ball down the field for big plays because of their running game. They run the ball so well, when they do throw it, they get big plays off of it. The receivers and tight ends get involved in that,” Scott explained.
The Wildcats, Scott said, have tried to downplay the encounter with Acadiana as a rematch.
“We don’t talk much about last year just because it’s different circumstances. It’s not some ‘revenge’ game or anything like that. We just want to be focused on playing our best,” said Scott.
A revenge mentality or not, it would seem a low-scoring affair may be in the offing in Friday’s game.
While Acadiana is coming off a 21-0 win over Mandeville, Destrehan reached the finals with a 6-0 win over Ruston. The lone score in that game was a fumble return by Wildcats defensive back Tyler Morton.
Even last year’s state title game was a defense-dominated game with Acadiana walking away with a hard-fought 8-3 triumph.
“I would think so,” Scott said of the potential for a low-scoring outcome.
“Our goal is to just take care of the ball, play sound defense, and play field position and do well in the kicking game. If we can do those, you just want to give yourself a chance to win,” the Destrehan coach said.