After last week’s not-so-pretty bidistrict win over Denham Springs, Destrehan was looking to see some improvements in this week’s regional playoff game against Barbe.
The Wildcats saw a lot.
In what Destrehan coach Stephen Robicheaux called a “tremendous” effort, the No. 3 seeded Wildcats easily handled No. 14 Barbe on the way to a 52-27 victory. Destrehan (11-0) advances to the regional round at home against — surprisingly — No. 6 seed Parkway, which defeated No. 11 Acadiana 55-28. Although not an upset in the football sense, Destrehan had lost to Acadiana the last two seasons, including last year’s state championship final.
Robicheaux insisted that had no bearing on Friday night’s postgame celebration.
“We can only control what we do, and obviously tonight we played tremendous,” Robicheaux said. “That was a great effort by everybody involved. I thought offensively, defensively, special teams, everybody played great. When you can score 50 against a team like that, that’s been scoring points all year, it’s a tremendous job. Our kids played hard.”
Junior quarterback Kohen Granier, the Wildcats’ first-year starter, had another great night, passing for 12 of 16 for 207 yards and three touchdowns, plus he ran for two more scores. His primary target was senior wide receiver John Williams, who had six catches for 125 yards and four touchdowns.
Christian Mosely handled the Wildcats’ ground game, rushing for 147 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries.
“They were leaving the middle open, so all I was running was post routes,” Williams said. “I just got open, and my quarterback just got me the ball.”
“That was kind of our game plan going in,” Granier said. “We just came out and executed what we practiced all week.”
And the Wildcats showed their hand early. Barbe, which won the toss, fumbled away the opening kickoff and Destrehan recovered at the Barbe 25-yard line. After an illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back to the 30, Granier connected for the first time with Williams for the score — just 12 seconds into the game.
The Wildcats defense then showed what it could do, holding Barbe to minus-12 yards on its first possession to drive the Bucs back to their own 10. After a short punt, the Wildcats got the ball at the Bucs’ 31 with 10:37 remaining in the first quarter. Four plays later, Granier ran in from the 2 for his first touchdown of the night and a 14-0 lead with 9:55 remaining in the period.
By the end of the quarter Destrehan had a 28-0 lead, while Barbe quarterback Gavin Nettles was 0-4 passing and had been sacked twice.
The Bucs adjusted and made late headway against a weary Destrehan defense. Running back Kirkland Banks finished with 217 rushing yards, including a 72-yard run in the fourth quarter. Nettles completed 14 of 27 passes for 158 yards and three touchdowns, two to Brian Smith and one to Colby Robinson. Smith had nine catches for 111 yards.
Barbe got its first score with 6:50 remaining in the first half following an interception by Shane Antonetz at the Barbe 31 yard line. The Bucs took nine plays to drive to the 28 yard line. From there, Nettles found the 6-foot-4 Smith, who out-jumped the Destrehan defender in the end zone for the touchdown.
Barbe did not score again until the fourth quarter when the Bucs put rattled off three straight scores in the game’s final 9:29.