Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2011



DESTREHAN — Despite a nightmarish start on the road, Lutcher stayed within arm’s reach of extending its jamboree winning streak over Destrehan to three.

But by night’s end, it became clear that the summertime talk of the Wildcats’ defense returning to the ranks of the elite was more than just idle chatter. Despite an equally game effort by the Bulldogs’ defense, Destrehan kept the opposition at bay and emerged with a 14-6 victory to cap off Thursday night’s Ed Reed River Parishes Jamboree.

Lutcher managed two first half field goals by Nicholas Gatch after falling behind 14-0 early in the exhibition’s first 15-minute half. But the Bulldogs’ quick hitting offense bogged down in the second half in the face of relentless pressure by the Wildcats’ front seven.

Was this the best front the Bulldogs will face this season?

“I hope so,” said Lutcher coach Tim Detillier. “Those are some Division I, SEC lineman … I can simulate a lot of things on my practice field. But I can’t simulate the Destrehan Wildcats.”

Said Destrehan quarterback Dillan Dent: “Last year, three and seven, that’s not Destrehan tradition. We’re trying to bring it back. That’s what we’re working for, all year.”

After stopping Destrehan on its opening drive, Lutcher marched into Wildcats’ territory, presenting the DHS defense with a steady diet of quick hitting passes on the perimeter to neutralize the Wildcats’ rush. But on fourth and one from the Wildcats’ 41, DHS swallowed up a run by quarterback Austin Matherne and turned the ball back over to its offense on downs.

“That was a big play for us,” said Destrehan coach Chris Stroud. “A big momentum changer. It’s something we expect our defense will do all year long.”

On the ensuing drive, Dent made an impressive play on second and eight from his 43, eluding a tackle in the backfield and stepping up to fire a 21-yard completion to Michael Smith at the LHS 37.

Three plays later, Kevin Smith converted a fourth down on a powerful run up the middle for eight. On the very next play, Smith performed his own escaping act, evading defenders behind the line and cutting up field for a 20-yard scoring run. Daniel Cimino’s extra point kick made it 7-0 with eight minutes left in the first half.

The lead would grow quickly. On Lutcher’s next possession, Marbley got loose on a blitz and delivered a clean blind side hit on Matherne, forcing a fumble that would be recovered by Destrehan at the Bulldogs’ 14.

“The offense came up big and we carried that with us on defense,” said Marbley.

Rickey Jefferson would carry three times, the final time on a toss play right where he’d beat the defense to the corner for a 3-yard score.

Lutcher had lost the momentum, but wouldn’t get swept away in it. Jared Poche — rotating with Matherne in spots — ran for a 16-yard quarterback draw for Lutcher, and a 15-yard penalty was tacked on for a late hit. On second and 10 from the DHS 38, Dijohn Payne ran around end for 18 yards, then hauled in an 11-yard reception from Matherne. The drive resulted in a 22-yard field goal by Gatch.

Destrehan had opportunities to blow it open, but Lutcher held firm. Jefferson returned the ensuing kick to the Lutcher 34. The Bulldogs pushed DHS back and forced a punt. LHS drove down in the waning moments of the first half, going 71-yards and settling on a second Gatch field goal. Matherne converted a third-and-17 with a 25-yard run and accounted for 61 yards.

“We got a couple of early scores, but Destrehan didn’t quit. My hat’s off to them. They came back at us,” said Stroud.

Destrehan’s first possession of the second half began on Lutcher’s 30 after a short punt took a good bounce for DHS. But the LHS defense held.

But Lutcher could get nothing else going. Its first three drives resulted in a single first down.

“They were making things difficult on us with that trips set, putting our safety in a bind,” Stroud said. “We made some adjustments as the game went on.”

Its final drive saw the Bulldogs march into DHS territory with less than a minute remaining.

But an interception by Jefferson iced the game — that his highlight-film runback for a touchdown was negated by penalty was immaterial, as the Wildcats kneeled it out for the win.

Marbley said the victory would simply provide more motivation for the season at hand.

“It’s pushes us mentally for that next game, seeing all the work we do carrying over onto the field,” he said.

Detillier said that he was happy with his team’s effort, though some mistakes would have to be cleaned up in the coming week before the Bulldogs’ opener at Dutchtown.

He also noted that, as usual, a clash between two River Parish teams was a crowd-pleasing, competitive affair.

“It was a typical cat-dog fight,” Detillier said. “Like always.”