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Wildcats open against another tough wildcard

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 11, 1998

DESTREHAN – The Destrehan Wildcats are in the same boat as they were last year as far as their opponent in the bi-district playoffs.

Last season, the Wildcats faced a wildcard team from the western part of the state, Acadiana, which just missed winning its district title.

This season, the Wildcats are facing another wildcard team from out west, Lafayette, that just missed winning its district title. The Lions, 7-3 overall and ranked 14th in Class 5A, lost to district champion and No. 2Sulphur, 21-7, last Friday.

Destrehan clinched its third straight district title with a 16-0 victory at H.L. Bourgeois last Friday. The Wildcats enter the playoffs as the 17th-ranked team in Class 5A with an 7-2 record.

As has been the case for much of the season, the defense carried the Wildcats past the Braves. Destrehan held Bourgeois to 154 yards in totaloffense and forced six turnovers (four interceptions and two fumbles).

“The defense carried us through the game and we were able to capitalize in the second half,” Destrehan coach Scott Martin said.

Freshman Richard Jones stepped in for the injured Karon Leobaux at running back and gained 93 yards on 14 carries before straining a ligament in his knee on the opening kickoff of the second half. Martin said Jones andLeobaux, who suffered a deep thigh bruise in practice last week, are probable for this week’s game.

Traun Smith broke open a scoreless game with a 62-yard touchdown dash on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Ricky Rodriguez addeda 30-yard field goal and Wendell Smith a 20-yard touchdown run to seal the win.

“I am excited for the kids to win the district outright,” Martin said. “Wehad four of our last five games on the road and we were able to win three of the four.

“We were able to handle adversity and a tough situation. The schedule wasdefinitely not in our favor to win district. I am proud of our effort thewhole year. We are not a flashy team but the kids work and play hard.”The schedule does not get any easier for the Wildcats. Lafayette is notyour typical wildcard team. The Lions’ strong point on offense is theirrushing attack but when they throw they do a good job. Senior running backJason Claiborne and fullback Treverance Faulk lead the ground attack.

Quarterback Steve Wilson does a good job directing the Lions’ offense, Martin said. Wilson will look to receivers Jared Aucoin, David Rills andChuck Ochello. On the line are senior guards Robert Williamson and ReedWiley.

Faulk, an all-state linebacker last year and one of the most highly recruited players in the state this season, leads the defense. The 6-4,230-pound cousin of LSU’s Kevin Faulk was moved to fullback before the season but has gradually been playing more and more defense. He playedevery down in the Lion’s game against Sulphur last week.

Faulk teams with middle linebacker Ricky Calais to give the Lions a dominant linebacking corps. Calais, whom Martin said was the bestlinebacker the Wildcats have faced this season, also returns punts and kicks for the Lions.

“We have to be able to control the tempo of the game,” Martin said of the key to the contest. “We have to stay in positive yardage situations and wehave to tackle and block better. And with playoff time, it often comesdown to who makes the fewest mistakes.”The winner gets the winner of the Archbishop Rummel-Central Lafourche game in the regional playoffs next week.

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