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Cat fight along the Mississippi

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / September 30, 1998

DESTREHAN – Has the football tide turned to the East Bank in St. CharlesParish? That is a question that is on many a fan’s mind in the Parish of Plenty.

In the early 1990s, Hahnville was on top, winning state championships in 1992 and 1994 and advancing to the title game in 1995. Destrehan did playfor the state championship in 1993 behind running back Rondell Mealey, but Hahnville was rolling off a string of district championships from 1991 to 1994. The Tigers also had a five-game winning streak against theWildcats, including a 41-7 win in 1995.

That changed in 1996 as Destrehan went on to win the district title with an 8-4 record. One of its victories was a 38-8 defeat of its cross-parishrivals. Last year, the Wildcats made it back-to-back championships with a10-1 record that included a 33-22 win at Hahnville.

This season, Destrehan enters the game with a 2-1 record overall and 1-0 in District 6-5A. Hahnville is 1-2 and 0-1 in district play. But in a rivalryof this magnitude, records go out the window. In the end, it will comedown to who can best handle the pressure and makes the fewest mistakes.

Both teams are looking to get their offenses on track. Destrehan hasdefeated Jesuit and Thibodaux but lost to Bonnabel for the first time in four games. After being held to 123 yards against the Bruins, the Wildcatscame alive against Thibodaux behind the running of Karon Leobaux and Traun Smith. Leobaux carried nine times for 127 yards and twotouchdowns while Traun Smith added 108 yards and two scores on eight attempts in the Wildcats’ 31-13 victory.

Smith has rushed for 238 yards this season and has also gone over the 100-yard mark in receiving. Wendell Smith has completed 10 of 22 passesfor 174 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite playing without nine suspended starters on defense, the Wildcats held Thibodaux to 251 total yards and forced three turnovers. Destrehanhas allowed a total of 44 points through three games this season.

The Hahnville defense has been even stingier, allowing just one touchdown and 26 points in three games. Against H.L. Bourgeois Friday, the Tigerspermitted 192 total yards and intercepted two passes.

But the Tigers have only one win in three tries to show for it, losing their last two games. The offense has been ineffective, scoring just twotouchdowns and 23 points in the three games. The special teams set up onetouchdown in the Sarah Reed game by tackling the punter near the goal line and the defense scored the other in that game as Greg Becnel recovered a fumble in the end zone in a 14-6 victory.

Against Holy Cross, quarterback Kade Rogers ran 34 yards for the Tigers’ only score. And in the 7-3 loss to Bourgeois Friday, Hahnville’s only pointscame on a field goal by Kerry Fonseca.

The Tigers’ offense suffered another blow Friday as starting running back Rafael Joseph broke his left arm. Joseph had been leading the Tigers with160 yards on the ground. Darryl Honor, who scored in the Tigers’ season-opener, filled in for Joseph Friday night, gaining 98 yards on 15 attempts.

Last year, Destrehan ran for 367 yards in its victory over the Tigers.

Russell Bickham had 141 yards and a touchdown while Traun Smith added 136 yards and two scores. Antoine Williams ran for a score and threw fortwo others to Dominic Griffin for the Tigers.

Destrehan travels to Central Lafourche next week while Hahnville plays at Thibodaux.

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