Green Devils win 4 in a row, await 4A playoff pairings

Staff Report

The Plaquemine Green Devils have found light at the end of the tunnel after a rocky start to the 2021 season. 

A 32-18 win over St. Michael last Thursday at Baton Rouge’s Olympia Stadium stretched the winning streak to four games after PHS opened the season 0-4

Plaquemine quarterback Michael Mitchell (2) scores for the Green Devils on a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter en route to a 32-18 win over St. Michael.

Plaquemine can savor their recent success a little longer. The Green Devils (4-4, 3-2) are idle in Week 10 and will await the pairings for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class 4A non-select playoffs, which will be announced tentatively Sunday, Nov. 7.

“We don’t know who we’re going to play yet, so we’re just going to keep practicing and keep getting shorter,” said interim head coach Ron LeJeune, who is filling in for Paul Distefano, who is on a 90-day medical leave. “It also gives us a chance for a few people to heal up a little bit before we get into the playoffs and see what we can do.”

PHS will likely land in the mid-20s on the 32-seed bracket, which will send the Green Devils on the road for Week 1 playoff action.

While nearly every team would prefer homefield advantage, it’s a far cry from the despair that loomed over the Green Devils during the first half of the season.

Plaquemine’s Robert Lockett (58) and Colbi Dennis (13) combine to stop St Michael running back Gavin Knappson on a carry in action last Thursday at Olympia Stadium in Baton Rouge.

“I’m proud of the kids and proud of the coaches. We’ve done an amazing turnaround when we hit the reset button four weeks ago,” LeJeune said. “We had a lot of injuries and a lot of chaos on the program, got back to basics and the kids and coaches bought in.”

Quarterback Michael Mitchell ran for three touchdowns and Kobe Major carried for two in the victory over St. Michael, which entered the season as a contender for the District 7-4A championship.

Major broke loose for an 80-yard run during the first minute of the game.

He stretched the Green Devil lead off a 66-yard scamper after Brandon Thymes returned a kickoff to the Green Devil 20. Rickey Green’s point-after kick put PHS ahead 14-0.

“We had to execute because we knew this was going to be a hard game, and we came through,” Major said.

St. Michael responded with a 53-yard run by Nicolas Johnson, who also ran the two-point conversion that put St. Michael within a touchdown of the Green Devils.

PHS stretched its lead in the second quarter off Mitchell’s 1-yard sneak and 6-yard run. Two-point conversion attempts fell short on both TDs, but the Green Devils went to halftime ahead 26-8.

A Phillip Harris 28-yard run for St. Michael, followed by a Chris Dodson extra-point kick, turned up the heat on the Green Devils, who held a 26-15 lead at the end of the third stanza.

While Plaquemine maintained the advantage, St. Michael was never far out of reach of the Green Devil lead. The PHS defense held off St. Michael near the goal line, but the Warriors got help off a Dodson 22-yard field goal that kept SMHS only a touchdown behind the Green Devils.

PHS solved that problem late in the fourth quarter when Mitchell sprinted 35 yards in the last two minutes that sealed the Green Devil victory.

Mitchell finished the night with 116 yards rushing off 20 carries. He competed two of six passes for 93 yards.

The Green Devils will know Sunday where placement in the LHSAA brackets will send them for the playoffs.

“Even if we have to travel, that’s fine,” Mitchell said. “We’re just glad to go the playoffs.”