Kaplan centerpiece photo

Kaplan's leaders include offensive line standout Gabriel Campbell (72), two-way backfield performer Nathan Sistrunk (14) and defensive line mainstay Austen Hebert (54).

The first round of the high school football playoffs can be filled with uncertainty for middle seeds. They usually have winning records, competitive schedules and perhaps a district championship on their résumés.

This was the case for the No. 15 seed Kaplan Pirates and No. 18 seed Bossier Bearkats in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Kaplan was 6-4 in the regular season and a co-district champion, and nine of its 10 opponents made the playoffs. Bossier was 7-3, and seven of their 10 opponents made the playoffs.

The uncertainty, however, ended in the first quarter.

Kaplan dominated all three phases of the game — offense, defense, and special teams — in taking a 37-point halftime lead en route to a 46-14 win.

The Pirates scored a touchdown on each of their opening five possessions with a bruising wing-T style running game that Bossier was not prepared to stop.

“We hit the sled daily in practice and take pride in blocking,” Kaplan coach Stephen "Tank" Lotief said.

However, the first play of the game was a surprising play-action pass for 28 yards to senior running back Nathan Sistrunk. That set up a 43-yard TD run by junior running back Drake LeJeune and 2-point conversion by Sistrunk for a quick 8-0 lead.

Bossier’s six possessions in the first half resulted in no first downs and six punts, as it was smothered by an aggressive Kaplan defense, led by defensive linemen Austen Hebert and Gabe Broussard.

The Bearkats’ leading rushers, Decamerion Richardson and James Davis, had rushed for 1,206 and 1,063 yards on the season, averaged more than 8.0 yards per carry. Against the Pirates, they did not eclipse 75 yards in the first half combined.

Another botched Bossier punt resulted in excellent starting field position for Kaplan at the Bossier 31-yard line. LeJeune’s 18-yard TD run and 2-point conversion gave the Pirates a 16-0 lead.

After the third Bossier punt, the Pirates drove 68 time-consuming yards finished by a 1-yard quarterback sneak by senior Romin Bradley and another 2-point conversion by Sistrunk for a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter and essentially the end of the competitive part of the game.

LeJeune and Sistrunk added two more touchdowns for a 37-0 lead, and LeJeune’s night was finished.

In the second half, Kaplan’s Cooper Guidry made a 28-yard field goal, and freshman running back Caden Campisi’s 1-yard touchdown plunge finished Kaplan's scoring. The Pirates' second- and third-team defenses grudgingly allowed two Bossier touchdown runs in the fourth quarter by Rico St. Fleur (2 yards) and Richardson (62 yards) for a final score of 46-14.

The win pushed Lotief’s record at Kaplan to 89-34, and the coach was straightforward in his approach to the second round of the playoffs.

“It doesn’t matter about the other team," he said. "If we're going to do what we do, it doesn’t matter who's across from us. We worry about us first, so it doesn’t matter who we are playing. We've got to take care of Kaplan first; that’s our attitude."

That next team is three hours away in Sterlington. The Pirates will make that trip Friday, facing the undefeated qnd No. 2 ranked 10-0 Panthers of Ouachita Parish.