Attention all future Plain Dealing opponents: pick your poison.
Try to stop quarterback Deaumante Johnson’s rushing attack, and he will patiently sit back and pick your defense apart through the air. Switch to a pass-focused scheme, and he will beat you on the ground.
“He definitely makes play calling easy,” said Plain Dealing coach Coy Brotherton, whose team is averaging 48 points a game through four weeks. “The whole offense really is making it easy right now.”
And it all starts with Johnson. Two weeks ago, he had one of his biggest rushing games. He ran over North Caddo, picking up 220 yards on the ground in a 26-6 Plain Dealing win.
Delhi must have read Johnson’s final statistical line. Friday, the Bears were determined to keep Johnson behind the line of scrimmage. He responded with one of his best passing games, finishing 19-for-35 with 343 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I think Delhi was just adamant about stopping the run,” Brotherton said. “They stacked some guys in the box, and our receivers were able to get behind them and make some plays. We had a lot of yards after the catch, where our receivers made short catches and then made someone miss before taking it in for a touchdown.”
Johnson was also effective running the ball. He had 117 yards and a score on the ground to stay on top of the area rushing leaderboard with 514 yards in four weeks. He ranks No. 8 in the area in passing with 618 yards and has 19 total touchdowns.
As a junior last season, Johnson wasn’t as consistent as he has been this year. Brotherton has watched his star quarterback grow up in a season.
“A lot of the mistakes Deaumante made last year were fixable,” Brotherton said. “We’ve worked on all of those things since last season. Sometimes, he would get overconfident and try to force some throws. Or, he would decide to run and then change his mind and throw down the field when he shouldn’t. So far this year, he’s been smarter. He knows the game and the offense. He’s making all of the right decisions.”
Plain Dealing (4-0) will face a bigger test this week when it plays Red River (1-2) at home.
“It’s a classification step up to 2A, so that will be a challenge with them having more depth than us,” Brotherton said. “We also have two starters out this week, and this will be the biggest challenge of adversity for us so far.”
Senior defensive lineman Hakim Gray, who is committed to play for Louisiana Tech next year, will have season-ending surgery on his right knee next week.
“We have a pretty good defensive group, but it’s hard not to miss a player like him,” North DeSoto coach Scott Abernathy said. “It’s a huge blow. You can’t just replace someone who is 6-4, 250 and athletic like him.”
An MRI revealed damage to several ligaments in Gray’s knee. Abernathy said Gray could have put on a brace and tried to play, but protecting his future was more important.
“You really feel for the kid. He worked so hard,” Abernathy said. “He did everything right, trained hard all summer, and did really well at all the college camps he went to. But he will rehab his knee, and he will be back.”
The Vikings (4-0) don’t see Friday’s game at Neville (4-0) as a chance at revenge, even though the Tigers defeated the Vikings 41-14 in 2011 in Bossier City.
Coach Bo Meeks would prefer to focus on the present rather than the past.
“This is a measuring stick for us,” Meeks said. “They are the defending 4A state champions, and they have won 18 games in a row. We will find out where we are as a program.”
Receiver James Hebert became Loyola’s career reception leader with four catches for 41 yards Friday against University.
Hebert, a senior, has 12 catches for 139 yards and one touchdown this season and 74 receptions in his career.
Connect with Brent Shirley on Twitter at @bshirley08.