With 10 years of RiverParishFootball.com coinciding with the past decade of high school football in the area, RPF.com is announcing its Team of the Decade.
With the help of past and present coaches of the schools involved, along with members of the RiverParishFootball.com staff, a top five Players of the Decade were named for each school. After the All-Decade teams from each school are announced, an overall RPF.com All-Decade team will be released.
Voters each listed their choice for the top five players from an individual school from a period spanning from 2010-19. A point system was used to determine the outcome. A player receiving a first-place vote was awarded five points, down to one point for a fifth place vote.
In the eighth Players of the Decade teams, here’s a look at Destrehan.
1. Will Matthews RB 2011-2014
2. Glen Logan DL 2012-2015
3. John Emery RB 2015-2018
4. Rae Juan Marbley LB 2010-2013
5. Kirk Merritt WR/RB 2013-2014
Whenever the Wildcats were in need of yardage during his years at Destrehan, Matthews always seemed to come through.
“The best thing about Will is when you needed a yard, he would get 10 yards,” said Greg Boyne, Destrehan’s longtime offensive coordinator. “He wasn’t the fastest kid, but his power – he played through a tremendous amount of injuries through his senior year. He exemplified what this program is all about. He did it the right way and he did it for a long time.”
Matthews ran for 1,924 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior, 1,473 yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior, and 946 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore.
“He was low to the ground and hard to bring down. He was like a bowling ball. When we had to run the ball and we had to get a yard, he would drop his shoulder and let it roll,” said Wayne Sentilles, another veteran Destrehan assistant.
One of the most dominant defensive linemen ever to come out of the River Parishes, Logan started out as a reluctant gridiron warrior at Destrehan, who needed some prompting from Wildcats head coach Stephen Robicheaux.
“He was a kid that Coach Robe had to sort of talk into playing,” Boyne recalled. “He has an uncle that’s like a three- or four-star general and he was going in ROTC. His freshman year, Coach Robe talked to his momma and said, ‘look, we will give him a shot. He’s a big kid and he can develop in the weight room.’ He kind of fell in love with the sport and his work ethic and disciplined he had is why he had so much success.”
As a senior in 2015, Logan had 54.5 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks for Destrehan team that went 11-1.
“Obviously, Glen was given all the tools. He had size, natural strength as well as developing himself in the weight room. I coached Glen on the defensive line, and Glen, as well as being a big person, was a stickler for details. When Glen played at Destrehan, he was a great technician. He knew how to use his hands. He knew his techniques. It was extremely hard to block Glen. When you put it all together, he’s pretty much the total package,” said Tim Taffi, another veteran assistant at Destrehan.
“I’m so glad he was on our team because we couldn’t block him Monday through Thursday at practice,” said Sentilles.
Emery was considered the top running back recruit in the nation during his senior year in 2018.
“He was special the day he walked in,” said Boyne. “He had natural ability and once he got into the weight room, he exploded. He would catch the eye for the amount of weight he could put on the bar.”
As a junior, Emery piled up 1,029 all-purpose yards, scored nine touchdowns and averaged more than seven yards per carry in six games before suffering a season-ending injury. As a senior, rushed for 1,693 yards and 26 touchdowns in leading his team to the Class 5A state semifinals.
“He has all the tools. He has size, he has speed, he has strength. He has great vision as a running back and he sees things and he’s able to put his shoulder down and run you over, and probably his best strength, is his quickness. He is able to elude people and get away from them with his speed and quickness,” Taffi said.
Marbley started out as a defensive lineman before moving to linebacker.
“When he was at defensive end, people could run away from him. Being a linebacker, they couldn’t run away from him. If we made a mistake on defense, Rae Juan was there to clean it up,” said Taffi.
As a senior, Marbley had 137 tackles, including 16 for loss. He also had one sack, one interception, two pass breakup, and a recovery for a touchdown.
“He was sideline-to-sideline,” said Boyne. “He would tackle in space and was athletic, fast. He had a great instinct for where the ball was going. Pound for pound in those 10 years, he was probably the strongest kid with power lifts.”
Merritt made an immediate impact at Destrehan for his junior year after transferring from Newman.
“Kirk could do everything. He caught the ball well. He ran good routes. He was fast. If we put him in the backfield, he could break tackles at running back. Everything he did, he did full speed,” said Boyne.
“The thing I remember about him best was his blocking,” Sentilles said. “He would drive defensive backs back. He’s a drill tape. You just watch him driving people to the sideline.”
In his debut season as a Wildcat as a junior in 2013, Merritt amassed 598 reception yards on only 23 catches with eight touchdowns.
“Kirk was probably the most gifted athlete of the bunch. He had a lot of speed. He was given strength. He was able to come in and make a lot of plays for us. He gave us a great dimension with his speed,” said Taffi.
RiverParishFootball.com and VSNLouisiana.com are part of the Varsity Sports Now family of websites.