Top seeded challenges await for LHS, DHS at Dome

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And then there were two from the River Parishes.

Destrehan and Lutcher are the last teams standing from the region as each team prepares for a date with destiny in the Superdome, with dreams of a state championship very much within reach.

Each team certainly knows its way around the Dome carpet — Destrehan, or course, is the defending 5A champion after dispatching Acadiana in the title game a season ago. Lutcher, meanwhile, is gunning for its second championship in three seasons and will be making its third championship game appearance this decade.

In Class 5A, the matchup that for weeks people have been clamoring for is about to become a reality — undefeated West Monroe (13-0) vs. undefeated Destrehan (13-0).

“Everyone knows what West Monroe is all about,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux. “They’re big, physical, and they’ve got a runner who does a real good job for them. This will be our toughest test. It’s no secret why they’re 13-0, and number one.”

After a regular season where the Wildcats were virtually unchallenged — 16 points was their smallest margin of victory — things evened out over the last few weeks. Destrehan navigated through a minefield in edging Ruston, rallying from two scores down to beat Higgins, and warding off Central in the closing seconds this past Friday night.

West Monroe defeated Barbe by 35 on Friday, after winning by 22, 13, and 21 in its three previous games.

Each team brings a terrorizing defense to the table. West Monroe has allowed more than 20 points only three times this season, and is fresh off of limiting powerful Barbe — which averaged 36 points per game entering Friday night — to 12 points.

Of course, the next team to score 20 against Destrehan will be the first — in 13 games, the Wildcats have allowed opposing teams to break single digits only four times. That unit is led by a star at every level — defensive end and Alabama commitment Darrington Sentimore, linebacker Rufus Porter, Jr., and cornerback Antonio Parker.

Offensively, West Monroe is led by exciting quarterback D.J. Banks, a duel threat that passed for 142 yards and three scores in the semifinal win, along with 86 yards and a score on the ground.

“He’s the most athletic guy they’ve had at that position in a long time,” said Robicheaux. “He can hurt you in a lot of different ways.”

Destrehan counters with quarterback Wynrick Smothers, another duel threat, along with a deep and talented group of wide receivers in Corey Vidal, Brandon Armstrong and Kyron King.

Lutcher (11-2), meanwhile, prepares to face an undefeated Notre Dame (13-0) team that overcame the loss of starting quarterback Bryan Leonards to top Redemptorist 17-10.

“They’ve been the most dominant 3A program in the state. We have the utmost respect for Notre Dame,” said Lutcher Coach Tim Detillier.

But the Pioneers had to rely on their defense to win — before the quarterfinals, Notre Dame had averaged 36 points per game. Over the last two, without the full services or Leonards, the team has scored 16 and 17 points.

If that continues, the defense will have to do a number on the red hot Lutcher offense, which has averaged 40 points in its current eight-game win streak, dating back to a district opening loss to St. Charles on Oct. 10.

“After that, our backs were against the wall, and we began to play like it,” said Detillier. “We played with a sense of desperation that we’re still holding on to.”

Lutcher quarterback Gavin Webster had a career game in the semifinal win over Cecilia as he accounted for seven touchdowns. He’s rushed for 21 touchdowns and passed for 22, while accounting for 2738 yards of total offense. Running back Daniel Taylor has rushed for 835 yards and 14 scores. Jarvis Landry is another all purpose weapon, rushing for 363 yards and five scores and hauling in 51 receptions for 807 yards and nine touchdowns.

Notre Dame will try and halt that offense with a defense led by linebacker D.J. Welter, whose stop of Redemptorist running back Jonathan Green at the 1-yard line on Friday night preserved a 17-10 semifinal win.