A week after one of the biggest upsets in Louisiana high school football this season, the Port Allen Pelicans will find themselves in rarely chartered territory.
PAHS heads back north, this time for a 160-mile road trip in hopes of another upset on Friday, Dec. 11.
Port Allen visits No. 2-seeded Mangham one week after the 10th seeded Pelicans eliminated defending Class 2A state champion Ferriday in the regional playoff bracket.
The win also puts the Pelicans in the role of the “hunted,” but maturity has also created confidence, which has been the fuel for the Port Allen engine during the postseason run, head coach Don Gibson said.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to play this far into the playoffs, and it’s very good for this program and very good for our community, so we want to make the most of what we have here,” he said. “When you get this far, you don’t want it to stop and you want to see your goals continue until you get to the championship … we’re not ready for this to end.”
The Pelicans hope to repeat last week’s stunner, although Mangham awaits PAHS after the Dragons fended off No. 18 Kentwood 33-27 in overtime. Mangham trailed the Kangaroos most of the game but tied the game late in the fourth quarter.
The Dragon leaders include senior Tae Gayden, who had an 80-yard kickoff return in the first-round win over Madison Parish. Quarterback Kaleb “Tutu” Pleasant, who has been capable on the ground and air attack, could also pose a threat to the Pelicans, along with senior wide receiver Cam Wilmore and wide receiver J.T. Smith.
“Those guys have played good football through the year, and they have a really good job who runs the ball well,” Gibson said. “But we’re not just satisfied making it to the quarters – we want more.”
A win over Mangham would continue the goal Gibson set for a team with players he coached from his first year at PAHS.
“The kids kept on believing and buying into what we’ve told them, and we’ve been working on this for four years,” he said. “This is the freshman class I had the first day I walked on campus, and they’ve bought into everything I preached to them, so to continue the wins just allows them to reap the benefits of what they’ve worked for during the last four years.”