Anyone paying attention to Destrehan (Louisiana) High School football this summer knew that this would be a fall to remember. After four years since its last playoff appearance, the team looked to be on the verge of a state title run.
The reason? Senior quarterback Donovan Isom.
As a high school senior, Isom is already a mountain of a man, standing at 6-foot-5 inches and 235 pounds. On the field, he has displayed all of the physical tools that are expected of an elite BCS-level quarterback. His stats are eye-popping, especially considering the fact that he's been pulled out of several games early due to lopsided scores. Isom's 26 touchdowns against only one interception during the regular season make him one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the nation.
For Isom, on-field success comes as the result of paying attention to the small details as he prepares for games. "Just doing the right things, doing the small things. I do what coaches are asking me to do. Whatever they ask me to do, I'll do it. It's because my offensive linemen do a great job protecting me, my running backs do a tremendous job, and my receivers create separation. I just read the defense and I hit them. Our defense has done a phenomenal job all year. I can't ask for better players to be around. Its' a special group of guys," Isom said.
Prior to this season, Destrehan hadn't made the state playoffs in four years. Behind Isom's leadership, the community has embraced the team as it has steamrolled each of the opponents it has faced. "It means a lot [to the community]. People are starting to see how hard we worked in the offseason and how it's showing up on the field. People are getting excited. We worked hard in the offseason to do what we're doing right now," Isom said.
"I'm just taking coaching from my coaches and just trying to do everything right. I try to get it right during practice and execute plays. Our coaches make practice harder than the games. It's got to be harder than the games. If you practice hard throughout the week, then game day should be easy," he continued.
Despite the team's lopsided scores, this season hasn't been without adversity. Destrehan was forced to forfeit one game after the fact after a scandal involving assistant coaches breaking down unauthorized film. The forfeit not only ended the perfect season, but put a playoff berth at risk going into the team's final game. However, with Isom at the helm, Destrehan once again followed its leader to victory, an occurrence that had become commonplace throughout the entire season.
"We all knew what our goal was. We overcame adversity and got the job done. Our coaches taught us well. They taught us to do the right things and assignments. We took care of business. [During the season], there were things I could have done better but we got job done and did what we had to do," he said.
Junior receiver Alfred Smith, one of Isom's top targets, attributes much of the team's success to Isom's leadership. "He's a big player. He brings a lot to the team and has everything a quarterback wants and needs. He just helps everyone out on offense. He has four good receivers and he gets the ball out to where we need it. He's special," said Smith.
On the recruiting front, Isom remains solidly committed to Utah, and has kept in close contact with the Utah coaches throughout the season.
"I talk to them a lot. I talk to Coach Johnson the most. He came to visit for one of our games and he liked my performance. I talk to him a lot," explained Isom. "We just talk about life. He just checks on me to see how I'm doing. He tells me he can't wait for me to come up there. I really do like Coach Johnson. I met Coach Erickson in July and he was a cool dude. I can't wait to work with them, but I've got to finish with high school first."
As of now, Isom plans on enrolling at Utah this summer and joining the team for its conditioning program. In the meantime, Isom has some unfinished business in the Louisiana state playoffs.
"Our approach for the whole team is we're taking it week by week," he said. "We'll take it one game at a time."