Port Allen Pulls Away From East Feliciana While St. Michael’s Methodical Approach Gets The Job Done Against Plaquemine
by Jace LeJeune
This week, Louisiana Football Magazine’s Jace LeJeune got to cover two Baton Rouge Westside games as the Port Allen Pelicans faced the East Feliciana Tigers and the Plaquemine Green Devils faced off against the St. Michael Warriors. LeJeune spoke with all four coaches about the game to talk about the team’s season, their thoughts on their opponents, and finally give their update on their top players.
Port Allen Pelicans (2-4) vs. East Feliciana Tigers (3-2)
Game Preview: The East Feliciana Tigers and the Port Allen Pelicans start district play against each other. It has been two different stories so far this season for both teams. Both the Tigers and the Pelicans have played in close games in the early season, but the difference was that East Feliciana made the plays in the end to win while Port Allen did not, hence the Tigers’ 3-1 record and the Pelicans’ 1-4 record coming in. The Tigers defeated West Feliciana 30-28, St. Helena 34-20, and Westlake 36-28. Their only loss came against the defending Class 1A state champions Kentwood 27-6. For the Pelicans, they headed into the game with one victory over Cohen 50-0, but they lost to arch rival Brusly 22-21, Donaldsonville 20-0, Livonia 21-13, and Opelousas Catholic 42-21. Both East Feliciana head coach Cedric Anderson Sr. and Port Allen head coach Don Gibson talked about their perspective starts to the season as well as what the keys were going to be for both teams in the game.
“We are off to a pretty good start,” Coach Anderson said. “We had an off week last week and were hoping to get some rest because of it. Hopefully, we pick up where we left off. Port Allen’s team is not indicative of their record. They are 1-4, but they are a lot better than their record shows. They just had bad breaks here and there.”
“The biggest thing is that we are still a young team that is trying to figure itself out,” Coach Gibson said. “We are getting better week in and week out. So far, we have played some tough, hard games, and we want to be in a position where we can compete in district. We are also excited about the opportunity tonight in competing against an athletic football team in East Feliciana, so we will see what we are about.”
Port Allen Recruits To Watch (Don Gibson): “Justin Louis (6-2, 335) does a great job for us. He has been a leader for us as well as a three year starter. He is a guy that has been strong for us on the offensive line and is a guy that we lean on.”
“Edward Wilson (5-11, 175) is a guy that has a ton of ability. Edward can play multiple positions. On offense, he goes where the offense goes and does a good job in the running game for us at the running back position. He also does a good job on defense so he is just a guy that has a lot of talent and a lot of ability.”
As of right now, the 2nd Team All-South Louisiana team selection has held offers from Nicholls State, Southeastern, Louisiana College, and Mississippi College.
“We also have a heck of a group of young guys. I got Jordan Antoine, who is a sophomore for us. He plays linebacker for us. His ceiling is really high, and he is 6-2, 218 pounds. He will have a chance to get recruited by some big guys.”
“Then, there is going to be Jamall Franklin. He plays on the offensive line for us. Jamal is 6-5, 360 pounds. Once he gets everything together, he will have a great chance of playing at the next level.”
“We also have another freshman in Braylon White, who is 6-2, 215 pounds, and plays outside linebacker for us. He hasn’t have a chance to show his potential yet.”
“There is also Mekyle Franklin, who is a junior that plays slot receiver and free safety for us. He will have a chance to play, and even our freshman quarterback Jacoby Howard is a guy that can do a lot of good stuff for you. We switched with him at quarterback two games ago, and now our offense has taken off. He is a guy that will have a chance to be recruited.”
East Feliciana Recruits To Watch (Cedric Anderson Sr.): “Right now, Caleb Anderson (6-2, 190) is committed to UL. He committed at the end of July and he is excited to play for Coach Billy Napier.”
“Cor’Darius Wright (6-1, 300), Rodney White (5-11, 175), and Nate Sullivan (5-10, 160) are other guys that I think can play somewhere at the next level.”
Game Recap: Port Allen 32 East Feliciana 14
On a Port Allen field that was sloppy due to wet field conditions, it was the Port Allen running game that found their footing with over 268 yards rushing during the game. It was the Pelicans that jumped off to an early 14-0 start thanks to a touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Jacoby Howard to Mekyle Franklin along with a 35 yard touchdown run from Franklin. However, UL commit Caleb Anderson and the East Feliciana offense responded with a seven yard touchdown pass to Rodney White to make it 14-6. Then, the Pelicans struck right back with an explosive 60 yard touchdown from their electric freshman quarterback to help give the Pelicans a 21-6 lead at halftime. Although the Tigers would again inch closer with a 90 yard touchdown pass from Anderson to Frankie Dunn in order to make the game a one score game at 21-14, it was as close as it was going to get. After Port Allen kicked a field goal to extend their lead to 24-14, the Pelicans would then ice the game with a 41 yard touchdown pass from Howard to once again Franklin in the fourth quarter. Howard and Franklin’s offensive effort along with three forced turnovers on defense gave the Pelicans arguably their most impressive performance of the season against a good East Feliciana football team with 32-14 win along with an early 1-0 start in district play. For the Pelicans, Howard finished with 87 yards passing and a touchdown along with two other rushing touchdowns and 131 yards rushing. His partner in crime Mekyle Franklin made plays all game whether it was on offense, defense, or on special teams with two touchdowns on offense and an interception on defense. The Pelicans improve to 2-4 and will face Northeast next week while the Tigers will fall to 3-2 and will play Capitol.
St. Michael Warriors (3-3) vs. Plaquemine Green Devils (1-5)
Game Preview: Two of the favorites to win District 7-4A faced off Friday evening at Green Devils Stadium as the Plaquemine Green Devils faced off against the St. Michael Warriors. The Plaquemine Green Devils have been a Class 4A powerhouse under head coach Paul Distefano winning five of the last six district championships, but this year, has been more of an outlier for the Green Devils as they have had a tough 1-4 start to the season in their first five games. After defeating Livonia 38-7, the Green Devils would drop their next four games. Still, the Green Devils faced one of the toughest pre-district schedules in the state having to play programs such as Ferriday, St. Thomas More, West St. John, and Central, which are all teams that have a combined record of 18-6. Even with the tough schedule and knowing the youth as well as the inexperience of this year’s team, there have been some surprises for Coach Distefano and company.
“Of course, I am not happy being 1-4 at this point,” Coach Distefano said. “Still, it is not a major concern as if we were underachieving because we would know pre-district would be tough. We were hoping we would go 3-2 best case scenario and at worst case, 2-3, but every team that has defeated us has been high up in the rankings for their perspective classification. It is not just a young team, but it is also an inexperienced team.”
For the St. Michael Warriors, it has been an up and down start as the Warriors have posted a 2-3 record in their first five games having defeated Albany 21-6 and Jewel Sumner 18-7 while also losing to Episcopal 16-7, Brusly 16-6, and Archbishop Hannan 21-17. For 2nd year St. Michael head coach Joey Sanchez, he has liked the effort of his football team, but just needs to see his team execute at a more consistent level.
“So far, it has been a season if inconsistency for us,” Coach Sanchez said. “We have played well enough to win all five pre-district games, but we ended up shooting ourselves in the foot in three of those games, which turned those games in the other direction. We tried to clean our mistakes as well as ourselves, and we definitely will have to clean it up tonight, especially playing against the Green Devils. They are definitely the most athletic team we have played this year. They are predicated on the big play and that is something we have to make sure to take away. We have to make them drive the field on us. For us, we have to win the field position battle and control the tempo of the game in order for us to win tonight.”
Plaquemine Recruits to Watch (Paul Distefano): “Melvin McClay (5-8, 175) is a DI football player. He can play running back, slot receiver, defensive back, and he is also great on kick returns and punt returns. He is not only fast and athletic, but he is also very tough. He can run between the tackles and for the good teams we have played, he has been the fastest guy on the field.”
McClay has earned a DI offer from Southern Miss.
“Darius Cyprian (5-10, 175) is having a great year for us. We can put him at a lot of different positions. He played a great job covering Trenton Grow (West St. John) when we played him. He and Melvin are our two best skill position players. They look similar, but they play with different styles. I think Melvin will be more of a running back at the next level, and Darius will be more of the slot receiver in college because he is dynamic as a receiver.”
“Cullan Scott (6-2, 290) is the one player that is getting all of the offers. He has received offers from Nicholls State, McNeese State, Lamar, Prairie View A&M, and Southeastern. He has also received some interests from UL, Louisiana Tech, and ULM. Another lineman that has a chance of playing at the next level is Da’len Sanders (6-1, 280).”
“Akim Lanieux (6-5, 170) has improved a lot over the last couple of years. He has not shined as much as anticipated, but you can’t coach 6-5. He is a great kid that is working hard and doing a great job for us, especially as a blocker. Right now, he is getting offers from Southland Conference teams, but if he improves, he could perhaps play higher than that.”
As of now, Lanieux has received offers from Nicholls State and Lamar.
St. Michael Recruits To Watch (Joey Sanchez): “Connor Badeaux (5-10, 170) is our best football player. He plays two to three positions on defense for us and is a ball hawk for us as he leads the team with five interceptions. He also plays multiple positions on offense. He is our leader as well as the heart and soul of our team. What we do a lot of goes through him. He is one of those kids that you could not drag off the field even if you wanted to. He is a great addition for our team. I think he will get some offers for us by the end of the season.”
“Luke Wilson (6-2, 200) and Mark Albano are our two hardest workers on our team. Those kids play full speed not only on Friday, but in practice from Monday to Thursday as well. Their hard work has paid dividends for us. They both play defensive end for us, and we feel that the defensive line is the biggest strength of our team because of them.”
“Nicholas Johnson is our second best football player. He will play some quarterback for us as well as some strong safety on defense. He is our ball hawk and also does a great job against the run. He is a young Connor Badeaux in which he is hard to take off the football field.”
“Our best recruit is most likely Codi Williams (5-11, 185). He is the best athlete on our team and has big time potential.”
Game Recap: St. Michael 31 Plaquemine 14
In a game in which seemed it was over as soon as it started thanks to both teams’ rushing attacks, the St. Michael Warriors and Plaquemine Green Devils battled for a chance to get an early 1-0 start in district play. The Plaquemine Green Devils scored two touchdowns one coming from a 70 yard touchdown pass from Percy Jackson, who got the start over freshman Mike Mitchell, to Akim Lanieux and the other coming on a touchdown run after the Green Devils took over after a mishandled snap on a punt. However, St. Michael’s scored two touchdowns of their own on the ground. The difference heading into the fourth quarter was a St. Michael field goal that put the Warriors up by three at 17-14. The most controversial part of the game occurred when Plaquemine called for a handoff on what thought to be a third down and 30. After the play, the officials rewarded a first down to the Warriors on the Green Devils’ 28 yard line instead of it being on fourth down. The blunder frustrated the Plaquemine coaching staff and deservingly so. The Warriors took advantage by scoring on a touchdown from Codi Williams to extend the Warriors’ lead to 24-14. Williams would then score another touchdown with two minutes left to go in the game to help the Warriors pull away from the Green Devils 31-14. For Coach Sanchez and the Warriors’ program, it was a huge win as this was the team’s first victory against Plaquemine in program history. The Warriors will hold an early district lead improving their record to .500 on the season with a 3-3 record. The team will have to play Broadmoor on Friday. Meanwhile, the tough start to the season continues for the Green Devils as the team dropped their fifth straight game falling to 1-5 on the season. It is coming to a point in which the Green Devils must win all of their remaining games to even have a shot at a playoff appearance. They will hope to get back on the right track next week against Belaire.
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