Destrehan edges ESJ in battle of defenses

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 19, 1998

MATTHEW ALLEMAN / L’Observateur / October 19, 1998

RESERVE – Friday night’s game at Joe Keller Stadium had huge implications in the District 6-5A race as the Wild-cats of East St. Johnhosted the first place Destrehan Fighting Wildcats.

In a matchup that has resurfaced as a huge rivalry for both clubs, Destrehan would come out on top 14-13.

Destrehan improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in District 6-5A. East St. Johnfell to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in district.

East St. John led most of this defensively dominated game, but theDestrehan defense capitalized on big plays to edge the Widlcats On Destrehan’s second possesion, the offense drove the ball 89 yards on 16 plays finally scoring on a 1-yard run by senior running back Traun Smith.

Ricky Rodriguez made the extra point to give Destrehan a 7-0 lead. Thisdrive was highlighted by the dominating “run-by-committee” style of offense Coach Martin has relied on all year.

On the very next possesion East St. John called upon junior wide receiverRoydel Williams who caught three balls on the drive including a 28-yard touchdown.

Williams finished the game with seven catches for 93 yards and the touchdown. The drive went for 8 plays and 63-yards. William Hogan madethe point after, tying the score 7-7.

In came the defense of each team as East St. John’s Samson Monicarecovered his first of two fumbles, giving his team good field position at the Destrehan 44-yard line. Monica finished with twelve tackles added tohis two fumble recoveries.

Nine plays later, Chuckie Burl ran for a 3-yard touchdown, making the score 13-7. Hogan would try the extra point but had it blocked. JamallJohnson of Destrehan got his hands on the kick keeping the lead at six.

This play would prove crucial to the outcome of the game.

These two Wildcat teams would trade possesions for the rest of the second half.

“My hat’s off to Coach Robicheaux and our defensive staff.” said Destrehanhead coach Scott Martin. “We knew both teams had good defenses and itwas a defensive struggle.”Linebacker Lance Carter intercepted East St. John’s Floyd Smith threetimes, twice in the second half, leading the Destrehan defensive charge against a dangerous East St. John passing game. And most of Monica’stackles came in the second half helping stop the Destrehan high powered rushing attack.

In fact, it wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter did an offensive player stand out and make something happen to decide this football game.

Senior quarterback Wendell Smith of Destrehan scrambled on runs of 13- and 16-yards for first downs on the final scoring drive of the game.

Smith also stepped up in the pocket and threw for the final score on a 12- yard pass to running back Mitchell Jones on fourth down.

“He (Smith) stepped back up in the pocket and he threw a dart and Mitch made a nice catch and got into the end-zone,” Martin elaborated. “He(Smith) started 34 games for us in a row and that proved tonight in the crucial drives.” Ricky Rodriguez made the winning point after and the Destrehan Wildcats came away victorious.

Smith finished five of seven passing for 42 yards and a touchdown and also ran on three carries for 37 yards.

Destrehan can take another step toward clinching its third straight district title when it hosts South Lafourche Friday. East St. John playsanother St. Charles Parish rival and faces former head coach Lou Valdinwhen it travels to Hahnville. Both games are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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