Green Devils want to get over the hump
PLAQUEMINE - Plaquemine Senior High School overcame a slow start to advance to the postseason for the fourth straight season a year ago but still haven't won a playoff game or district championship in nearly a decade.
The Green Devils were the District 7-4A runner-up with a 4-1 record in Paul Distefano's first year at the helm of the program and finished 6-5 overall despite a first round exit at the hands of Breaux Bridge and tough non-district losses to Brusly, South Lafourche and Vandebilt Catholic.
"Get over the hump," Distefano said. "That is our motto. Win a playoff game. Our goal is to have a winning season, win the district championship and a first round playoff game."
The Green Devils return five starters to an offense that scored 350 points a year ago. Plaquemine returns seven to a defense that surrendered less than 300.
"Basically, it is like a new offense to the kids," Distefano said. "We went through a transition last year.
"We will live and die by our defense. We have size and they can move around."
Strongside defensive end Davon Godchaux is the Green Devils' returning leading tackler with 60 stops, including 16 for loss and 10 sacks a year ago. The four-star recruit has over 30 scholarship offers and expects to announce his choice Dec. 29.
Plaquemine's offense will run out of the Wing-T. The Green Devils top losses include Northern Colorado signee Hakeem Deggs, a running back who amassed over 1,500 yards from the line of scrimmage, and University of Louisiana – Monroe signee Rickey Aro, who tallied over 600 yards passing and rushing.
Senior Julius Maracalin (5-11, 205), a two-time all-district pick, returns at running back to lead the attack after rushing for 760 yards last season in six games. Damion Oubre (5-10, 205, Sr.) and Chazz Edwards (5-8, 165, Jr.) also fit into the mix in the backfield with others.
Juniors D'Morea Wicks (5-9, 160) and Louis Connerly (6-0, 190) are vying to be the Green Devils' quarterback. Both are expected to be in the scheme no matter who is under center.
"(Wicks) has the varsity experience," Distefano said. "They will be prepared each week as they are both starters. They will both be on the field somewhere."
Damarcus Jenkins (6-2, 350, Sr.) and Kevin Dotson (6-3, 265, Jr.) return at offensive guard after both earning all-district a year ago helping the Green Devils amass over 3,000 total yards. Juniors Jodeci Harris, Kenny Dotson and Tyler Boudreaux round out the line.
Newcomer Joseph "Joe" Keller (6-1, 190, Jr.) has found a home at tight end and senior Raekwon Thomas (6-1, 170) is the top returning receiving threat.
The Green Devils will use the 3-3 stack for their defensive scheme and return almost their entire front. Key losses include Deggs, Myron Jack and Jared Tackno.
Godchaux has played every position on the line and is joined by senior all-district performers Jaron Hooks (5-10, 220) and Khalil Harris (5-9, 240) along with D'Quincy Buggs (6-0, 325), all returning starters. Hooks piled up 32 tackles and five sacks a year ago while Harris had 22 tackles and two sacks.
Senior Orlando "O.J." Batiste (6-1, 255) also returns at linebacker after an all-district campaign with 36 tackles and two interceptions. Oubre and Malik Collins (5-10, 195) round out the linebacking corps.
Edwards and Cody Brooks (5-9, 150, Jr.) return in the secondary and will be joined by Thomas and Jalen Washington (5-9, 160, Jr.).
The Green Devils open the season at 5A East Ascension in Gonzales before hosting 3A regionalist and rival Brusly, 5A Woodlawn – B.R. and 3A quarterfinalist Jennings.
Plaquemine then faces 1A quarterfinalist Southern Lab on the road before hosting 5A Zachary.
The Green Devils host Belaire to open District 6-4A play and then travel to district champion Lutcher. Plaquemine wraps up the season at Tara after hosting St. Michael the Archangel.
"It was a tough schedule last year but I feel like the only way you can get ready for the playoffs is by playing quality teams," Distefano said. "We don't have a break on the schedule. If we can get over the hump, everything else will fall into place. It is all about the team. You have to willing to sacrifice anything and put the team above yourself. That is what we believe in."