What a contrast of games between the back-and-forth offensive showcase between St. Thomas More and Lafayette Christian Academy to start the day and a defensive slugfest to cap off the night with Destrehan and Ruston. The Destrehan Wildcats made just enough plays in the end to pull out the 17-10 Division I (Non-Select) win over the Ruston Bearcats.
“We had to find ways to win especially in the playoffs. It’s a different style of football just each and every week. Sometimes it’s a power run game that you saw tonight or a wide-open spread offense. The kids and the coaches have been able to adapt and adjust each and every week. It’s a tribute to them and all their hard work.”Destrehan Head Coach Marcus Scott
The LHSAA Prep Classic has something for everybody, and this defensive struggle was not for the faint of heart.
To show what kind of game it was, Ruston linebacker Jadon Mayfield and Destrehan safety Kevin Adams were named as the game’s two most outstanding players.
Both defenses were flying all over the place in this game. Every inch of turf was fought for and not given a as both teams combined for 459 total yards and only 22 first downs. In the first half, both offenses would struggle to put points on the board with Destrehan’s aggressive defense only giving up 38 total yards of offense including only three yards on the ground.
“If you look at all the spread offenses now, you see very few teams line up with two tight ends, a fullback and running a power run game downhill. That’s very hard to simulate in practice. We had to really prepare and obviously our scout team did an outstanding job of helping us get ready for Ruston. It’s always a tough game. Coach Baugh does a great job of getting his team ready to play and every time we play them it’s always a tight game.”Destrehan Head Coach Marcus Scott
On Destrehan’s second drive of the game, quarterback Jai Eugene Jr. completed a 57-yard pass to Daniel Blood that would later set up the Shane Lee five-yard touchdown run giving the Wildcats a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
After trading possessions, Ruston made its first big mistake of the game when Destrehan safety and Tulane commit Kevin Adams forces the fumble on running back Dyson Fields and was immediately picked up and recovered by his teammate Anthony Robinson, who returned the fumble eight yards to the Bearcats’ two-yard line.
The Bearcats defense would hold and only force a 33-yard field goal from Ryan Lacy to make it a 10-0 lead for the Wildcats, but Ruston would end the first half strong.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jordan Hayes had a 52-yard return to give the Bearcats great field position at the Wildcats’ 31-yard line plus a 15-yard penalty on Destrehan for a face mask giving Ruston’s struggling offense a spark. Ruston quarterback Jaden Osborne connected with his favorite target Aaron Jackson for the 16-yard touchdown to pull within three at 10-7.
Ruston would try to tie the game with 2:30 left to play in the first half, but Russell Brown’s 44-yard field goal attempt was unsuccessful. Destrehan headed into the locker room with a 10-7 advantage at halftime.
The second half was more of the same with both defenses not even budging. Brown tried another 40 plus field goal attempt, but it turned out to be short.
After a scoreless third quarter, Ruston took advantage of good field position off of only a 21-yard punt by Destrehan and drove 38 yards to set up Brown again. For the senior Bearcats kicker, the third time was the charm making a 24-yard field goal to tie the game at ten with 6:54 left to play in the game.
Although held in check for the majority of the football game, Destrehan senior quarterback and Tulane commit Jai Eugene made plays when mattered most down the stretch completing three passes to Missouri commit Daniel Blood for 55 yards during the drive and then making the biggest offensive play of the game running for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats back the lead at 17-10 with just 3:22 left to play.
Destrehan then forces its second turnover of the night when Osborne’s pass was intercepted by Andrew Schafer to give the Wildcats the ball back with 2:48 left in the fourth quarter.
Ruston’s defense would give its offense one more chance to try and tie the game late. Osborne connected with Jackson two more times for 10 plus yards, but as the Bearcats were marching in Wildcat territory, Destrehan senior cornerback Travon Thomas seals the game by intercepting Osborne.
The three turnovers by Ruston and the Jai Eugene rushing touchdown ultimately made the difference in an evenly matched game.
This state championship win has been a long time coming for Destrehan’s senior class as they have reached the semifinal round five years in a row, but finally has knocked down through the door ending their high school career on top as state champions.
“It’s not only a tribute to the player and the coaching staff, but there’s so many people behind the scenes that sacrificed to help us become successful. It’s a special moment. It’s a special group of kids and coaching staff that did an outstanding job preparing them.”Destrehan Head Coach Marcus Scott
This is also a first for Destrehan head coach Marcus Scott, who finally got his first state championship as the Wildcats’ head coach after falling short in the semifinals the last two seasons.
The Ruston Bearcats (12-2) overcame a hurdle of their own getting to the state championship game as this is the program’s first appearance in the Superdome since 1998. Still, getting to this point shows that head coach Jerrod Baugh and the program is heading towards the right direction.
For Destrehan, this is the program’s fifth state championship and first since 2008 and the team did so while having a perfect 14-0 season.
Check out some of the photos taken by Jason Saucier! We will release the magazine with all the game photos throughout the weekend for the Prep Classic. If you wish the receive the magazine for free through email, fill out the contact sheet form at the bottom of the article.
Road To The Dome Preview:
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Stay tuned on Monday. We will release the magazine with all the game photos throughout the weekend for the Prep Classic. If you wish the receive the magazine for free through email, fill out the contact sheet form below!