Talk to any West Monroe fan leading up to last Friday’s road contest against No. 7 Destrehan, the feeling was mostly mutual. As if they were reading a script from Star Wars, the phrase, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” might’ve come up a time or two.
That’s because Destrehan defeated No. 2 West Monroe the last two times the schools met in the playoffs. In 2014, Destrehan edged the Rebels, 27-22 in the state semifinals, and in 2008, Destrehan beat West Monroe, 14-3, in the Class 5A State Championship.
Heading into Friday’s matchup, the Rebels and Wildcats were 2-2 in the postseason, but after Friday night’s 20-17 victory, the No. 7 Wildcats took the series lead and more importantly gained a semifinal berth.
Destrehan running back Kyle Edwards, an Alabama commit, received all of the pregame hype, and he delivered with a 101-yard rushing performance against the Rebels (not to mention a passing touchdown, as well). But the real MVP for Destrehan was its defense. The Wildcats held West Monroe to just 192 yards of total offense. The Rebels were just two-of-five passing for seven yards.
And most importantly, it was Destrehan’s defense that secured victory late. After West Monroe’s defense did its part and forced a punt with approximately five minutes to go in the game, a botched snap gifted the Rebels with a prime opportunity to win the game. Trailing 17-14, West Monroe got the ball on Destrehan’s 7-yard line after the costly miscue.
Everyone in the stadium knew what was coming next. West Monroe handed the ball to No. 1, as Cayden Pierce was once again proved to be the Rebels most lethal weapon on offense. Destrehan shut West Monroe’s rush attempts down, though, and forced the Rebels to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Kade Pittard to tie the game, 17-17.
Destrehan had a little more than two minutes to work with and got the ball down West Monroe’s 10-yard line with five seconds left. That’s when Will Bryant made the game-winning field goal to end West Monroe’s journey toward another 5A title.
Destrehan had to sweat the game out late, but the game wasn’t trending that way in the first half. After Pierce scored his first of two touchdowns and allowed the Rebels to take a 6-0 advantage in the second quarter, Destrehan scored 17 unanswered points to take a 17-6 halftime lead.
Bryant made his first field goal of the night in the second quarter to draw the Wilidcats within three before Edwards scored on a five-yard run with 2:27 to go in the second quarter. Leading 10-6, the Wildcats got the ball back and cashed in on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Calvin Bullock with just 11 seconds remaining in the half.
West Monroe wasn’t going down without a fight, though.
Pierce scored his second touchdown with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter before West Monroe eventually tied the game in the fourth quarter. Pierce led the Rebels with 96 rushing yards on 21 carries.
The Rebels finished the season with an 11-2 record.