Aiming for the Sky

After winning two consecutive state titles, Destrehan High School experienced a bit of a dropoff last season. The inexperienced Wildcats had some growing pains in 2009, but quarterback Taylor Dunn and his teammates are now older, wiser, and more battle-tested. Read further to find out more about Dunn and Destrehan.

When you think about modern-day football powerhouses in Louisiana, Destrehan High School immediately comes to mind. The Wildcats went a combined 29-0 during the 2007 and 2008 seasons, winning back-to-back 5A state championships in the process.

Last year, Destrehan experienced somewhat of a rebuilding year, going 5-6, and the Wildcats are determined to improve in 2010. Quarterback Taylor Dunn, a returning starter, directs Destrehan's spread offense and he will be counted on to lead the team back to the top of 5A football.

"We're trying to use last year as motivation," said the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior. "We know that we just have to work harder and get our intensity level higher. We have a lot of returning starters and that will help."

In 2009, Dunn completed 52% of his throws en route to a 2,000-yard performance through the air.

"I had 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 games," he said. "My best complete game was against Helen Cox (Harvey, La.). In that game, I went 18-for-25 with 250 yards and three touchdowns. I also had a good first-half against St. Paul's (Covington, La.) and a good second-half against Karr (Algiers, La.). I think that I had 200 yards and two TDs in the Karr game.

"I'm working on better conditioning and also the mental aspect of my game. I'm trying to learn exactly what the coaches want me to do in each situation. I'm mainly doing lower body work with the conditioning. Lots of squats and running. I want to shave two-tenths of a second off my 40-yard dash time."

Each Wednesday, Dunn and Destrehan hit the field for some 7-on-7 work and last week the Wildcats took on Hahnville (Boutte, La.), St. Augustine (New Orleans), and Karr.

"It's good for our receivers to see some good corners and for me to see some quality defenses," said Dunn. "We did pretty well last week. We find out the problems areas and then try to tweak them and make adjustments.

"Hahnville has a good linebacker named Ben Taylor who really flies around the field and they have a wide receiver, Derek Howard, who made a nice catch against us on a fade route. St. Aug's Renaldo Thomas moves around the field really well for a 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 player. He plays his position well and is hard to beat deep. He reminds me of (former Dutchtown safety, current LSU player) Eric Reid.

Dunn is traveling to Alabama soon for the Southern Showcase.

"I received an invitation for it," he said. "It's in Fairhope, Alabama. I'm bringing one of my primary targets, wide receiver Rickey Jefferson. He's Jordan Jefferson's little brother and he'll be a sophomore this year. Last year, he started as a freshman and had six TDs. He also caught two TDs in our spring game."

Dunn isn't receiving much interest from college recruiters at this moment, but he's focused on handling his business at Destrehan.

"To be honest, I'm not hearing from any schools, but I just have to be patient. I know that I've been overshadowed some by (Hahnville QB) Brian Ensminger across the river. My coaches say that they think I'll sign somewhere to play Division I.

"I'm just trying to get ready for my senior year and hopefully I'll make some plays. We have some designed runs for me between the tackles this year - in order to take pressure off our running backs. We have an offensive lineman, Ethan Hutson, who does really well. He's a big kid with amazingly quick feet."

Dunn mentioned linebacker Tarquin Kenner as the impact player on defense.

"Kenner is a three-year starter and he runs a 4.5, benches over 400 pounds, and squats more than 700 pounds. He's was a starter on the 2008 state championship team. The only place he needs to improve is in the classroom."

When asked about crucial games, Dunn mentioned three in particular.

"Hahnville, of course," he said. "Hahnville is Hahnville. Also, Lutcher is a big game for us. We see them twice a year, once in the jamboree and then early in the season in non-district. They're one of the best teams on our schedule and they put a beating on us last year. I think they scored 14 points in a matter of several seconds. The sky is the limit for their running back, Daniel Taylor. I think he's underrated by some people because he'll only be a junior, but I think he's right up there with Kenny Hilliard and the other great senior backs. (Wide receiver) Jarvis Landry and Daniel Taylor will be the focal point for Lutcher this year.

"Dutchtown is another crucial game. Last year, we beat them 14-6 at their place and they went on to become the No. 8 seed in the 5A playoffs. Entering that game, they were 4-1 and we were coming in on a two-game skid. They lose Eric Reid to graduation but they have another good safety, Shaquille Lewis, who will be back. Their running back, Effrem Reed, is really good in space with the football."

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