CAPPING IT OFF
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
With the release of its Class 5A All-State team this week, the LSWA recognized what was a truly historic season at Destrehan. And right alongside them, an East St. John Wildcat made some significant history of his own.
After a second consecutive undefeated season and Class 5A state championship, five Destrehan players — Darrington Sentimore, Rufus Porter, Antonio Parker, Bobby Gorman and Ryan Rome — were recognized by the state’s sportswriters as being among the state’s best.
Meanwhile, the selection of East St. John’s Patrick Lewis ranks as a true milestone at the school. Lewis is now the only player in the history of East St. John football to be selected for three consecutive seasons.
Lewis, a senior offensive lineman who has committed to Texas A&M, has played every position on the line for Coach Larry Dauterive. His versatility was especially crucial this season, as the Wildcats suffered injuries along the offensive line, causing Dauterive and his staff to reshuffle the deck.
“It’s unprecedented,” said ESJ Coach Larry Dauterive. “When he came here, he was set to play defense. We needed him on offense, and he switched. And he’s just dominated. He deserves all of this, especially given the tough competition we’ve faced.”
Dauterive says the nature of the offensive line position makes Lewis’ accomplishment all the more impressive.
“The position is so unheralded. You toil in anonymity,” Dauterive said. “To make it three straight years is huge.”
Dauterive says that the praise Lewis gets is universal from not only opposing coaches, but also those at the next level.
“When I sent our tapes to Tulsa, I told their coach that Patrick may be a little hard to find on some clips,” Dauterive said. “He plays so many different positions for us. He calls me back and tells me, ‘Coach, he wasn’t hard to find at all. We just found the defender on the ground, and the big man standing over them.’”
Offensively, East St. John leaned on its line play to anchor its run-first offense. But with new starters at quarterback, running back, and both wide receiver positions, Destrehan needed to lean on a veteran offensive line of its own.
Enter Gorman. The senior was one of four returning starters along the line, and among the key reasons the Destrehan offense remained one of the more formidable units in the state.
“He was the anchor of our offensive line, which was a big key to our success this season. We knew we’d have one of our strongest units ever up front,” said Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux. “He’s a versatile guy. I think he can play fullback in college. He deserves the accolades.”
Defensively, Destrehan was unmatched this season, in no small part due to having an All-State player at every level of the defense — Sentimore, a defensive end, Porter, a linebacker and Parker, a cornerback.
Destrehan never allowed more than 18 points in a game this season, and held West Monroe — a team that averaged over 40 points per game in four previous playoff games — to just three in the Class 5A championship game.
Sentimore committed earlier this year to Alabama, where the senior Wildcat will play under Nick Saban beginning next season. He didn’t disappoint in 2008, returning from injury in the playoffs to record two sacks and take MVP honors in the state title game. Sentimore made 59 tackles, nine for loss, during the regular season
“He’s just a big game player,” said Robicheaux. “He comes through in our most important games. He really showed what he can do in that title game.”
Porter finished a fine senior season with the play of his life — his 98-yard interception return for a score to thwart a late West Monroe drive saved his team’s title aspirations.
“That play will go down in history for Destrehan High School,” said Robicheaux. “He’s made these types of plays all year for us.”
Porter recorded 92 tackles, 12 for loss this regular season.
Parker makes the squad for the second straight season. He picked off four passes while also returning four kicks for touchdowns during the regular season.
“Antonio just did a tremendous job all season long for us,” Robicheaux said. “He’s one of our very best athletes. When you combine what he does defensively with what he does in the kicking game, it’s truly something special.”
Rome gave Destrehan another powerful special teams weapon. Rome made eight field goals of over 40-yards and hit all 43 of his extra point attempts.
But Robicheaux says that it’s what Rome does on kickoffs that truly sets him apart.
“He’s such a weapon,” he said. “He consistently puts it in the endzone, and it makes teams have to go 80 yards. And the way our defense played this season, that’s a pretty huge deal.”