Acadiana repeats, rides defense past Destrehan for title

Published 12:28 am Sunday, December 14, 2014


NEW ORLEANS – Destrehan running back Will Matthews sat at the postgame podium misty-eyed after his Wildcats had fallen in the Class 5A state championship game, 23-7, to an Acadiana team that ousted them a year prior as well.

“They were good,” Matthews said. “They were fast. There were holes, and then they just closed fast.”

Acadiana forced three first half turnovers and never allowed Destrehan to get within a single score after a Brody Fontenot field goal made it 17-7 with 8:01 left in the third quarter.

It’s the second consecutive Class 5A state championship win for the Wreckin’ Rams and the program’s fourth since 2006.

LSU-committed tight end Bry’keithen Mouton earned championship game MVP honors after hauling in two receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Fontenot was another player who had a big hand in the win, booting field goals of 31, 24 and 22 yards, punting three times for an average of 35.3 yards and booting all six of his kickoffs into the endzone for touchbacks.

It was a defensive game through and through. A year after Acadiana smashed records by rushing for over 700 yards and scoring 77 points in its championship victory over Parkway, the Rams settled for 153 yards on 16 attempts, led by Malik Eugene’s eight attempts for 67 yards.

But Destrehan’s focus on stopping the veer option opened up opportunities downfield. Acadiana quarterback Kevin Moore — who is a perfect 7-0 since taking over as Rams starting quarterback in Week 8 — passed just five times, but completed three of those for 121 yards, including a 37-yard score to Mouton.

“I thought we had to sell out and stop the run against them,” Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux said. “They got us pretty good with some plays down the field. My hat’s off to them. They were the better team tonight.”

Matthews led Destrehan with 21 carries for 82 yards. Malcolm Darensbourg and Kohen Granier combined to complete 16 of 29 pass attempts for 168 yards, and the duo combined to rush 11 times for 61 yards. But Acadiana intercepted the young Wildcat passers three times.

Destrehan (14-1) appeared on the verge of setting an early tone in their favor. DHS opened the game with a 14-play, 51-yard drive, where Matthews carried the ball nine times for 35 yards. But Acadiana stopped Destrehan on a fourth-and-8 from the AHS 29, Granier’s pass for John Williams past the sticks falling incomplete.

Acadiana (11-4) nearly scored on its first possession when Donavin Solomon broke loose on a 17-yard run — he appeared destined to score, but lost his footing. DHS held and forced a punt.

But four plays into Destrehan’s next drive, Charles Campbell intercepted Granier at the DHS 37. Acadiana decided to strike, and a well-timed play fake allowed Mouton to come wide open 20 yards downfield. His catch-and-run did the rest, and AHS took a 7-0 lead with 2:42 left in the first quarter.

DHS’ next possession ended the same way, this time with Darensbourg throwing an interception to Javante Edmond. But Acadiana fumbled the ball away inside the Wildcats 10 on the next play, offering DHS a reprieve.

But Acadiana cashed in on its next drive. A 28-yard run by Eugene set up an Eric Duhon Jr. 2-yard scoring run to make it 14-0 with 8:43 left in the half.

Destrehan turned it over on a third straight possession after driving into Acadiana territory. Jayrin Wilson made the play this time on Granier’s downfield attempt to the Rams’ 6.

The DHS defense held firm, and it set the offense up with good field position after a punt. Destrehan marched 40 yards, with Granier connecting with Williams on a pair of key conversions, capping the drive on Granier’s 2-yard keeper run to make it 14-7 at half.

“14-7, after one of the worst halves we played all year, we were still in the game,” Robicheaux said. “We thought we could build on that and get something going, but it just didn’t happen for us.”

Acadiana went 52 yards on its next drive, Fontenot nailing a 31-yard kick to make it 17-7 at the 8:01 mark of the third quarter.

Destrehan attempted to answer, but its own field goal attempt from the Acadiana 24 sailed wide left.

Once again, Acadiana went for the knockout immediately, Moore and Mouton connecting on another deep play off play action. It set up another Fontenot kick, this one from 24 yards out.

Destrehan just couldn’t respond. A third field goal by Fontenot put DHS in a position to need two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions with under nine minutes left. Twice, DHS got into the redzone, but on both occasions, Acadiana held Destrehan scoreless.

The Wildcats were missing the talents of Kirk Merritt for much of the game after Merritt exited play after Destrehan’s lone touchdown. Merritt, who left last week’s game due to an ankle injury, was the Wildcats’ premier big play threat.

“What an incredible effort by him to even be out there,” Robicheaux said. “He wanted nothing more than to help his team. He gave it his all. Nobody’s sicker than he is right now.”

Robicheaux said this group will go down as one that put Destrehan back on the map as a prep football power.

“I’d give both my championship wins back for having the chance to come back and coach this special group and go on the journey we’ve gone on,” he said.