Paul Distefano and Cecil Thomas have been coaching long enough to know what a trap game is. That is why both teams are prepared to meet their challenges head on to start the LHSAA football playoffs Friday night.
“They are big and fast, but you know what, so are we,” Distefano said. “We are going to go out and do what we do, which is be aggressive and try to control the clock and the ball. You don’t need to complicate things.”
Eighth-seeded Plaquemine (8-2) hosts No. 25 Westgate (6-4) for a Class 4A playoff game, while No. 11 Walker (8-2) hosts No. 22 Hahnville (5-5) in Class 5A. The two games help highlight a long list of nonselect playoff games set for 7 p.m.
Both coaches understand why their teams might be considered the hunted rather than the hunter in their opening-round games. New Iberia-based Westgate has made its share of deep playoff runs. This Westgate team has added star power in junior wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, an LSU commitment.
Walker seeks its first Class 5A playoff win against a Hahnville team that has a rich playoff tradition and plenty of motivation. Hahnville was the Class 5A runner-up to another 4-5A team, Zachary, last December. The fact quarterback Andrew Robison joined the HHS attack last week after winning an arbitration case with the LHSAA provides another weapon.
“He (Robison) is a good quarterback, and they already give you plenty of looks to prepare for with their offense,” Thomas said. “To be honest with you, we’re focused a lot on ourselves. After last week, there were things we needed to clean up. This has been a very good week of practice. We’re excited about the chance to host this playoff game.”
Last week’s 35-21 loss to Central in the regular-season finale gives the Wildcats some motivation.
Walker has its share of talent, too, with a deep receiving corps led by sophomore Brian Thomas, who led all area 5A/4A receivers with 45 catches for 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns. Jalen Cook has 44 catches for 600 yards and nine TDs.
The Wildcats have been in Class 5A for more than a decade, so getting an elusive playoff win is a key goal. A year ago, Walker lost to Landry-Walker 14-7 in the first round.
Plaquemine certainly provides a contrast. The run-oriented Green Devils are led by Melvin McClay's 927 yards and 12 TDs. Earl Young has 469 yards rushing.
“For us, it comes down to executing the things we need to do,” Thomas added.
Distefano summed up the battle of opposites the Green Devils face this way: “Westgate is going to do what they do and we will be what we do. We’ll see who does theirs better.”