Lutcher has something big to play for Friday night when the Bulldogs host the Plaquemine Green Devils.
“The long and winding road of the season gets to Week 10 and you just want something to play for, and we have something to play for – a district championship, home playoff game, all of those things are in play now and you are kind of in control of yourself,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins.
“We talked all year long about getting better and working through it. It hasn’t always been perfect but we’ve found ways to improve, and hopefully, now it’s time for November football. It’s time to step it up and take it to the next level,” Jenkins continued.
After the Bulldogs won the state title two years ago to complete back-to-back championships, a young and rebuilding Lutcher team went through a rare losing season in 2017. Following a loss to Parkview Baptist to open District 6-4A play, the possibility of playing for a district championship was up in the air this year.
Yet, the Bulldogs, 6-3 overall and 3-1 in district play, have a chance to create a three-way tie for the league title with a win over Plaquemine on Friday. The Green Devils enter the game 7-2 overall and 4-0 in league play.
Plaquemine defeated Parkview Baptist earlier in the season to hand the Eagles their only district season of the year and would be the other member of the three-way championship should Parkview win on Friday.
“I know Parkview hasn’t had the season they wanted. I still think their schedule and injuries played a big part in that. Confidence is a strange thing. Teams that can find a way to get confidence normally play well and teams that don’t, find ways to struggle and things don’t work out,” said Jenkins.
For things to work out Friday night for Lutcher, the Bulldogs will have to defeat not just a team, but a solid program.
“You look at Plaquemine and the program that Coach (Paul) Distefano has put together and they are primed to bust through that door at some point. In 4A, they have the type of talent to complete with some of those metropolitan city schools that kind of dominate 4A and it really boils down to something that you really need and that’s sheer size,” Jenkins said.
The Green Devils certainly have size on offense.
“They have a lot of explosive players that get a lot of headlines but you have to start with their offensive line. They average 277 pounds up front, led by Brockhim Wicks, who’s 6-2, 310. He’s one of their best football players. They have three returning starters on their offensive front, so that makes a lot of the things they do work,” Jenkins said.
Plaquemine features three top skilled players on offense.
One is running back Melvin McClay.
“He’s a big-play guy. He’s averaging almost 10 yards a carry,” said Jenkins.
The Green Devils also feature all-around talent Dontavion Wicks.
“Dontavion Wicks is kind of their jack-of-all-trades guy. He plays receiver. He’s physically imposing at 6-3, 205. He can really run and stretch the field vertically. He gives them a threat, especially with the things that they do with the Wing-T in the (shotgun). With play-action, he’s normally pretty wide open because you have to commit so many guys to stop the run,” Jenkins said.
“The catalyst of the group, Jenkins said, is quarterback Herb Thomas.
He got injured last year and you saw their season kind of take a bit of a nosedive a little bit at time with his absence. I thought they were the most talented team in the district last year but that injury cost them against Parkview. It took them a little while to get started with a new quarterback and I think him being back gives them a lot of confidence on the offensive side,” the Lutcher coach said.
A Wing-T offense and physical team can be a tough combination to defend, said Jenkins.
“They have been putting up a lot of points week in and week out. They gain yards in a lot of different ways but it all boils down to their physicality up front makes them a team that can complete in 4A, not only for a district championship, but kind of going into the playoffs,” Jenkins said.
Like with the Plaquemine offense, the Green Devils are physical on defense.
“They mix it up a bit,” said Jenkins. “At times, they’ve been a four-man front, kind of a 4-2-5, but you’ve seen them play some 5-1 Bear and 3-2 under. I guess it’s game-plan specific to what they feel your strengths are and what they are able to do.
“One of the things that doesn’t change, regardless of what their look is, is the physicality and aggressiveness they play with.”
The headliner on defense is Herman Christophe.
“Herman Christophe, their senior linebacker, is a big, fast, mean linebacker. I think most coaches, if you were to ask them to draw up what you want your linebacker to look like, Herman Christophe would probably fits that mold,” Jenkins said of the 6-foot, 230-pound Christophe.
Another top defender is 6-foot-2, 290-pound Cullen Scott.
“He fits the mold of their next great guy that they’ve had. They’ve had so many great defensive linemen. I’m sure he will be a big-time recruit come this time next year,” said Jenkins.
The Green Devils also have a ballhawk in the defensive backfield.
“In the secondary, J’Vonte Powers has been extremely opportunistic, forcing turnovers. He makes his presence known. He’s had an interception return for a touchdown this year. He’s caused a lot of turnovers. He’s physical and doesn’t mind coming up and making tackles in the run game,” Jenkins said.
If the Bulldogs are to win to capture a share of the district title, a four-year trend in the series will have to end, according to Jenkins.
“The biggest thing on defense is you have to find a way to stop the run,” the Lutcher coach said. “In the last four times that we’ve played, they were able to pick up first downs, grind out the clock and make explosive plays. They’ve averaged over 50 rushes over those four games and over 300 yards rushing.
“We have to be able to contain their run, but the biggest thing is you have to get them off the field, and that’s one of the things we haven’t been able to do.”