Livonia, Plaquemine land No. 1 seeds in nonselect football playoffs _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Plaquemine quarterback D'morea Wicks scrambles against Lutcher in a regular-season game.

Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano said playoff seeding was just a number when the playoffs started.

So hearing that the top-seeded Green Devils (12-1) are considered the underdog going into Friday’s semifinal game with No. 5 Warren Easton (11-2) wasn’t a surprise.

“We are well aware of what we’re facing,” Distefano said. “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 a 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 be the better team for one night.”

Plaquemine and Easton square off at 7 p.m. at Pan American Stadium. Warren Easton has star power. Johnson, a wide receiver, is considered the state’s top senior prospect. McGinnis, a defensive lineman, has plenty of major college interest. Quarterback DeShawn Capers-Smith was announced as Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year on Thursday.

What does Plaquemine have to counter with? An option offense that has rushed for 4,335 yards — something Distefano says is the key.

“It’s no secret that we run the ball,” Distefano said. “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.

“Every round of the playoffs gets tougher. Our goal is to play the best game we can possibly play. That’s everybody’s goal at this point in the playoffs.

Quarterback D’Morea Wicks and running backs Preston Russ and Austin Mitchell, lead PHS.

Wicks has a team-best 1,191 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 978 passing yards and another seven touchdowns.

Russ is at 1,147 rushing yards and seven TDs, while Mitchell has 884 rushing yards and a team-high 17 TDs. Tight end Joe Keller has 27 catches for 521 yards and seven TDs.

Capers-Smith leads the quick-strike Warren Easton offense with 47 TD passes. It is notable that the teams have a common opponent. Class 5A Woodlawn lost to Plaquemine and beat Easton.

“They are probably the best team that we have seen all year,” Easton coach Tony Hull said. “They are really fast and big up front on the line of scrimmage. They play to that strength.

“They don’t make mistakes, and when you play a team like that, you are going to have to come out and execute extremely well.”