Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011



DESTREHAN — It’s a sequence that was recounted over and over during the spring as Destrehan’s football team reconvened to prepare for the 2011 season.

A win-and-get-in chance against district foe St. Amant was on the docket on the last game of the regular season. The Gators were a team on the rise, but that nonetheless had never been able to solve the Wildcats in District 6-5A play … understandable so, given Destrehan’s two-state championship pedigree during that time.

But at the end of the night, Destrehan’s run of postseason appearances came to an end after a 39-36 loss in overtime, Britton Day’s 2-yard touchdown run sealing things for good.

Given the circumstances, the end of last season would in theory then serve as a coaching tool to stir up prime motivation for the team this season.

Not necessary, said Destrehan coach Chris Stroud.

“It’s the players who talk about it, the players who recall what happened at St. Amant, in overtime and in the fourth quarter … it was a game we let slip, not the first of those. And it’s something the players have taken upon themselves and committed to rectify it.”

Stroud’s first season at Destrehan saw him command a relatively inexperienced team with just 10 returning starters in an unforgiving district. On top of that, the midseason departure of starting quarterback Taylor Dunn further threw the team in flux.

But junior Dillan Dent would settle in and take over the reins for the rest of the season. And while Stroud said that the Wildcats have a promising young passer behind him in sophomore Donovan Isom who will see some time, he made no bones about it: this is Dent’s team.

“He’s the guy,” said Stroud. “What we saw over the spring and the summer, he took ownership this team. He’s a leader. And we’re expecting a great season out of Dillan.”

Dent’s weapons will be largely familiar. Kevin Smith and Mark Trudeaux lead a deep backfield once again. And the offense’s most explosive weapon will return in the form of junior wide receiver Rickey Jefferson, the brother of former DHS and current LSU quarterback Jordan, who is a threat to make explosive, game-changing plays as both a rusher and a pass-catcher.

“He’s such a great athlete. With him its big play, big play, big play,” Stroud said.

Defensively, the front seven will be keyed by the Wildcats’ three-man defensive line. It figures to be a terror for opposing coaches.

B.J. Singleton, Marrick Charles and Dereck Robinson disrupt and dismiss plays and should free up a plethora of athletes behinds them.

But the glue of the “stopper” unit might be senior safety Spencer Bentley, who Stroud calls a natural leader and a versatile player who can swing between both safety positions.

The Wildcats will play their two local district rivals in East St. John and Hahnville in two of the final three weeks of the season, the first coming at home and the second on the road. But Hahnville represents the only road clash in district play for Destrehan, which will begin play in the new District 8-5A with four home games, including tilts with Higgins, Ehret and Bonnabel.

The predistrict schedule boasts South Lafourche, St. James, Karr, West Jefferson and a familiar foe in Dutchtown, a rival from 6-5A.

All of those games figure to see a rejuvenated Destrehan team out to make a down-season a distant memory — something Stroud said his team is already doing internally.

“We use it as motivation. But we don’t dwell on it,” he said. “You learn from those mistakes and work to make your play in those situations a strength for your team.”