Green Devils take measure of Bulldogs second year in a row

Staff reports
HOLE OPENS…Dylan Lowe (60) and Chaston Barbier (75) open a hole for Plaquemine Green Devil teammate Julius Maracalin (with ball). Maracalin was off to the races to score on a long run in the Green Devils’ jamboree win over White Castle Friday.

Plaquemine High used breakdowns by White Castle’s specialty teams and defensive unit to roll up a handful of long scoring runs as the Green Devils turned back the Bulldogs for the second year in a row in jamboree competition.

Similar, but not completely, like the way PHS handled the eventual Class 1-A state champs at the previous Port Allen jamboree last year, the Green Devils rolled up a 30-14 victory Friday night at their first home jam in several years.

Both PHS Coach Bob Howell and WCHS mentor Ferrante Dominique said they came out of the jamboree feeling “real well” about their teams’ pace toward the start of the regular season.

“We tried some new wrinkles toward the end of the game and one backfired on us, but they made a mistake too and we ended up with an easy, late-game score on them. But, overall, I was pleased with our progress and saw mistakes we can correct,” noted Coach Howell.

Coach Dominique used the same expression “real well” as an answer to how he felt about his team’s jamboree effort. “Plaquemine did some coaching and had their team ready. We ended up with some breakdowns with some of our first-year starters on defense and they took advantage. We could not stop their triple option offense at times in the game and they had some big plays. Also, we had breakdowns that allowed them to score on kick returns. But, overall, I saw progress and we stuck to our basic game plan as usual,” explained Dominique.

Plaquemine opened the game by running a couple of option plays that the WCHS stopped, but then called a counter play and it worked to break sophomore Julius Maracalin free for a long touchdown run on the third play of the game.

Howell said the Bulldogs switched defenses and stopped his offense on the next series, but the Green Devil defense returned the favor. The next series Quintele Jackson got the Green Devils in good field position with a punt return and then PHS ran an option with fullback Daylan Henderson breaking free for another long touchdown run.

Down 14-0, the Bulldogs got their offense cranked up and senior quarterback Isaac O’Bear threw a 40 or so yard TD pass to senior wideout Terrance Taylor to cut the PHS lead to 14-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, Plaquemine’s Hakeem Deggs took off on a long run to the end zone, stunning the Bulldog specialty team and moving the score at halftime to 20-6.

The second half opened with WCHS all-state running back Tyree Bracken fielding the ball and taking off. He was about to break free, when PHS linebacker Jaquale Smith stripped him of the pigskin to give the Green Devils great field position and the football. Not long after, Henderson tallied his second TD of the game on a short run.

White Castle came back on a drive that ended in another O’Bear to Taylor touchdown pass play of around 15 yards to close the gap again.

Things got even closer when Plaquemine attempted a “no huddle” and fumbled away possession deep in WCHS territory. However, the Bulldogs returned the turnover. The Bulldog center snapped the football well over the head of O’Bear, who was back in shotgun formation, and the Devils recovered the loose ball at the WC two-yardline. Henderson tallied his third score of the night on a short run to make it a final 30-14 score.

“Our two fumble losses and their punt and kickoff returns really hurt us. Other than our offensive line doing a good job pass blocking, I did not think our lines performed very well in the game. Mistakes cost us, but they are mistakes that will be corrected,” explained Dominique.

The Bulldog coach said O’Bear had a solid effort,  “never leaving the field”, playing offense and defense and kicking off. He said all of his skill position players did well, but his line and specialty team play needed work.

Dominique said Bracken ran the ball well and tallied a two-point conversion, but did not have the opportunity to break open the game.

Coach Howell noted: “I think the world of the Bracken kid. He is a tremendous runner. But I think our defense is much, much quicker this season and they did a good job of containing him. He had less long runs against us this season, but still was impressive on four- and six-yard runs,” noted the PHS coach.

Howell said his quick defensive efforts were led by Davon Godchaux, Deondre Philson, and Smith, but he added the entire unit had a “solid team performance.”

“I don’t have time to dwell on the jamboree loss. I have to get us ready for another tough opponent this week when we play Glen Oaks. Right now that is what we are concentrating upon,” noted Dominique.

In the same vain, Howell watched Brusly High play in its jamboree last Thursday night and said he had to get his Green Devils ready rather quickly for another big test. “Their quarterback (Jay) Christophe scares me with his athletic talent. And, I know Coach (Erik) Willis will have them ready for us. This is an old rivalry,” explained the PHS mentor.

PHS hosts Brusly tomorrow (Friday) night at Green Devil Stadium. White Castle High travels to the Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium to face hosting Glen Oaks. It will be the first time a Iberville Parish gridiron team plays in the new stadium, located in the northeast region of East Baton Rouge Parish.