PLAQUEMINE — Plaquemine has been known for its rushing attack in years past, and that tradition continued Friday night.
The Green Devils looked dominant on both sides of the ball in their season opener, recording a 38-7 victory over the visiting Livonia Wildcats.
The Green Devils stayed stayed in Wildcat territory for the majority of the night, playing a mostly clean game behind junior quarterback Troy Washington. The unit sputtered a bit at first but was able to get into rhythm.
“We are very inexperienced in some key positions on offense,” coach Paul Distefano said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. We have seniors like (Melvin) McClay and (Darius) Cyprian that can carry the team at times.”
Plaquemine recorded 262 rushing yards, led by senior running back Melvin McClay, who recorded 176 rushing yards and two touchdowns to finish the night as the team’s leading rusher behind a mostly young offensive line.
“They’re young, but they’re getting better as they go,” he said of the unit.
McClay said the up-tempo offense the team maintained all night was key to wearing down the Wildcats defense.
“They had a lot of players on both sides, and I felt like the high-speed tempo really wore them down,” he said. “It means a lot to start the season like this. This is my last first game. This was a statement game.”
Matthew Zito’s defense was unrelenting from the first drive, not allowing Livonia to score until almost the end of the game. The Wildcats finished with just 132 yards of offense, often setting themselves back with penalties.
The Wildcats failed to answer a steady defensive attack, aside from the 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Avery Walker to senior receiver DJ Leonard to avoid being shut out in the final minutes.
Livonia was hardly any stronger on defense. The highlight of the Wildcats' night was an interception by T-Man Victorian on a pass from Washington that was intended for Jazz Provo in the first quarter.
The play was called back, though, because of a personal foul penalty. Plaquemine answered with a drive that quickly saw Washington hand off the ball to McClay for a touchdown.
The Livonia offense was unable to produce, even when its special teams came up big.
A high snap prevented the Green Devils from getting the punt off at the end of the fourth quarter, placing the Wildcats at the Plaquemine 10-yard line. Even with favorable field position, the Wildcats put together a string of missed opportunities and incompletions.
"I think the penalties, and having a young and fragile team hurt us. The penalty on the interception in the first quarter really had us deflated," Livonia coach Marc Brown said. "As the game went on, our quarterback settled down and made some good plays and some good throws. You can't speed the process up. Reps and time and experience is the only the way to get better."
Despite the dominant victory, Distefano said he still sees room for improvement as the Green Devils face tougher opponents down the road.
“I thought our depth was a factor," Distefano said. "We have to do a better job of protecting our quarterback. We have to build depth in the secondary. We want to improve on our quick passing game and getting the ball to the perimeter. Getting the ball to these athletes in space.”