Entering Year 4 as the head coach at Warren Easton, Tony Hull has his Eagles a game away from playing for the Class 4A state championship.
The only thing standing in their way is the No. 1 seed in the bracket, the Plaquemine Devils.
Warren Easton (11-2) hosts Plaquemine with a berth in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on the line Friday night at Pan American Stadium.
It would be Easton’s first trip to the championship game since 1958. The school’s only two titles were won in 1921 and 1942.
“It is just a tremendous situation and such a great opportunity for us,” Hull said. “We are completely focused on what we have to do Friday night. We can’t think about what may happen next week or what happened last week. All of our energy is focused on our opponent on Friday night.”
Reflecting on how far the program has come since he took over four years ago after leaving Mandeville as an assistant coach, Hull said he couldn’t be prouder of everyone in the Warren Easton family.
“To be honest I really never thought about when or how we were going to be successful as a program,” he said. “I just have devoted all my time and energy on the process to become successful.
“Just the day-to-day experiences of building a program and turning the kids a part of this program into men on and off the field. I never really put a time frame on it.”
Plaquemine (12-1) is the District 6-4A champion and top-seeded team in the Class 4A bracket. They are led by junior running back Austin Mitchell. Mitchell has 1,220 all-purpose yards and has scored 20 touchdowns.
Plaquemine’s lone loss was to Zachary, which is playing in the Class 5A semifinals. Plaquemine and Easton have a common opponent — Woodlawn-Baton Rouge. Plaquemine beat Woodlawn 35-21 the week before Woodlawn beat Easton.
“We are well aware of what we’re facing,” said Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano. “They have nine kids who are ranked by Rivals and we have one. Tyron Johnson is a five-star guy. Arthur McGinnis is a four-star.
“The quarterback is committed to Texas A&M as an cornerback. We know we can’t match up with them one-on-one if you look at it that way. All we want to do is the be the better team for one night. It’s no secret that we run the ball. Our defense has played well. We need to control the line of scrimmage and move the ball. We need to keep their offense off the field as much as possible.”
The Devils scored 27 unanswered points in a come-from- behind win against No. 9 South Terrebonne last week.
“They are probably the best team that we have seen all year,” Hull said. “They are really fast and big up front on the line of scrimmage.
“They play to that strength and just play sound, fundamental football. They don’t mistakes, and when you play a team like that you are going to have to come out and execute extremely well if you want to be successful. We have to match their intensity.”
Breezing through their first three playoff opponents, the high-powered Warren Easton attack is averaging 58 points a game in postseason wins over Woodlawn-Shreveport, Peabody and Benton.
“We are going up against a team Friday night that has talent at every position and can match up with us extremely well,” Hull said. “When you go up against an opponent like that, we know what we have to do.
“We have to play like we are capable of doing. What that means is no mistakes and go out there and execute the game plan and stick to our assignments.
“We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot with blown assignments and penalties,” he said. “We have to start out on fire and keep it up for the entire game.”