Speed, depth biggest challenges Port Allen faces vs. Plaquemine

Staff Report sports@thewestsidejournal.com Week two football action sends Port Allen on the road for another neighboring rival along the La. 1 corridor,

Staff Report


Week two football action sends Port Allen on the road for another neighboring rival along the La. 1 corridor, but perhaps one of the toughest opponents on the Pelican schedule this season.

PAHS visits Plaquemine High School, a perennial Class 4A contender who has finished above .500 every year since 2009 and has been a perennial state title contender over the last five years.

The Pelicans (0-1) hope to spoil the first home game of the season for the Green Devils (1-0), who defeated Class 5A squad East St. John 42-20 in a battle in the River Parish city of Reserve.

Port Allen head coach knows the reputation Plaquemine has built over the last decade. He also knows how much a win over the Green Devils would do for the Pelican program.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for us because they’re a well-coached, perennial playoff contender,” he said. “We have a young team, but we want to make sure to focus on the positives and keep the focus and mindset where it needs to be. We need to keep plugging and plugging.”

The loss against Brusly disappointed the team but did not hamper its spirit.

“We feel good where we’re headed as a team, but we have to do a better job of protecting the football and do a better job on defense,” Gibson said. “Against Plaquemine, it’s all about the speed of the game.

“They play fast, physical, football, and they’re going to be aggressive on the defensive side of the ball, and of offense, a great job of running offense,” he said. “We have to match their speed to have a good chance of winning this one.”

Plaquemine head coach Paul Distefano, a former head coach for the Pelicans, has led PHS to postseason action every year since he took over the program from Bob Howell in 2012. Distefano has since amassed a 56-21 record at the helm of PHS.

The speed of the Pelicans will pose the biggest challenge for PHS, Distefano said.

“They definitely have good athletes, a lot of speed,” he said. “Our depth up front gives us an advantage, but with a team with speed like Port Allen, they’re always dangerous.”

Starting senior quarterback Herb Thomas, who was sidelined last season with a broken hip he suffered in action against Tara, has returned to the helm for the Green Devils. He completed 7-of-8 passes for 58 yards with two touchdowns against ESJ.

Junior running back Melvin McClay Jr. had 13 carries for 220 yards, three touchdowns and three catches, including one for a touchdown.

Outside linebacker Herman Christophe (6-1, 230) trimmed 30 lbs. during the offseason, which has made him quicker and more effective.

“He’s much faster and more explosive this season,” Distefano said.

Dontayvion Wicks (6-3, 195), who has played multiple roles, was a starting quarterback in the spring and has started at wide receiver, along with some time on defense. He played 50 percent of the snaps on defense Friday.

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