Plaquemine coach Paul Distefano doesn’t care about rankings.
Sure, his Devils are the No. 1 team in the Class 3A nonselect playoffs this season, but none of that matters once they step onto the field against No. 9 South Terrebonne on Friday. It’s the quarterfinals, and it’s a win-or-go-home attitude for the few teams remaining in the postseason.
“We’re 11-1 and South Terrebonne is 10-1. I’m telling you they’re 10-1 for a reason,” Distefano said. “They’re a solid football team. They’ve been able to score a lot of points and so have we. They’re a No. 9 seed, but at this point those numbers don’t matter.”
Plaquemine joins the ranks of teams like 3A’s Livonia (11-0) and 1A Mangham (11-0) as top ranked programs hoping not to be upset Friday night. Livonia takes on No. 9 Rayville (9-3), while Mangham plays No. 8 White Castle (8-3) in the third round of the playoffs.
Livonia, in particular, has a Superdome-shaped target on their backs as it entered the postseason as the defending state runners up after falling to Union Parish 33-27 in last season’s final.
First-year Livonia coach Guy Mistretta said he isn’t worried too much about the target on his team’s back, more so than he’s concerned about the fact they’ve blown out almost every opponent all season.
The Wildcats won 10 of their 11 games this season by at least two touchdowns, with the final game of the regular season at Church Point standing as the only close victory. Seven of those wins came by at least three touchdowns.
“We try not to take that into consideration, but that is a concern once you get into the playoffs, that you’ve been in those situations before,” Mistretta said. “… (The target) has been there all year, and it’s something they’ve definitely gotten used to. The fact that we have that No. 1 seed doesn’t really change anything.”
In another 3A quarterfinal, No. 5 West Feliciana (10-2) looks to take down defending state champion No. 4 Union Parish (11-1) at home Friday night.
The Saints have blown out Westlake and then Donaldsonville by a combined score of 84-13 thus far in the playoffs, while Union Parish is coming off a 29-14 win against No. 13 Kaplan.
“At this time in the year, if you have to find a way to motivate your team in the playoffs, you probably aren’t going to be in the quarterfinals,” West Feliciana coach Robb Odom said. “We know what’s at stake, we know who we’re playing, we respect our opponent, we know what they did last year and we know what they did this year.”
No. 7 Springfield (9-2) won’t need much motivation either as it hosts defending 2A state champion No. 2 Kinder (12-0) in the quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs will have to put together one of their best performances of the playoffs, after taking the first two rounds 25-22 to General Trass and 52-30 at South Plaquemine, to overcome a Kinder program that has allowed six points this postseason.