Better health, more experienced roster key for Walker Wildcats
When it comes to the 2018 season for the Walker High School Wildcats, it is a case of the two’s. However, it is hopefully not a case of the terrible two’s.
The previous season of Wildcat Football under head coach Lester Ricard is headlined by reaching the state playoffs. The Wildcats even led in that Class 5A first round against powerhouse Landry-Walker for three and a half quarters, but the talented Chargin’ Bucs from Algiers pulled off the win.
The first step in securing a first playoff win in the school’s 5A history may come down to health in 2018. Walker had a plethora of injuries to overcome last season, including setbacks for all three quarterbacks who return this season.
Ricard, however, is keeping things simple for his squad.
“I do not put goals on his team like other coaches do to their teams,” Ricard explained. “Looking at a group of kids who are going to compete, play hard, we want people to feel us when we play, and know that they have been in a battle with the Walker Wildcats.”
After spring practices, seven Wildcats can run a 4.4 40 yard dash compared to two last season, according to Ricar. A total of seven can lift a combined 1000 pounds in the three categories
– powerlift, bench, and squats – compared to only two that could accomplish that feat last season.
Ricard said, “I want to give total credit to Cecil Thomas, our Strength and Conditioning Coach. Ninety-nine percent of the credit goes to him.”
Along with the improved athleticism and strength on the roster, all three quarterbacks who played last season are back. Juniors Ethan McMasters, and Landon Adams plus sophomore Christian Ard give Walker plenty of competition and capable options behind center.
“We are great, and one thing about the injuries is that it could be a blessing and a curse,” Ricard, the former Amite, LSU and Tulane quarterback, noted. “When Ethan went down with an injury, it allowed us to give playing time to both Landon and Christian.
“We can see it from this spring and during the 7 on 7’s this summer, and as a former QB, I like to see my guys make all the correct reads and the right throws. We’ve got three guys that can start this season easily for us.”
Offensively, the tackles are seniors Garrett Emmons and Xavier Lacombe while the guards are senior Isiah Zachary and either junior Blade Thompson or sophomore Zachary Zimm. The center is junior Tim Lawson. The unit has enough experience to continue to grow together.
The top running backs are Liam Daigle and Demitri Wright. Jalen Cook, the speedy two-sport senior standout, and fellow senior Trent Montgomery are the top receivers for the likely quarterback starter, either McMasters or Ard, to target in the passing game.
Defensively, the Wildcats line up with junior Dylan Sharp at end, senior tackle Kobe Blaylock and senior nose guard Jerome Wilson anchoring the trenches. The linebackers are comprised of senior Cade Seymore in the middle with senior Ke’Andre Ventress and either junior Dakota Wilson or senior Tyler Whittington on the outside/
The secondary will be a strength on this team. Junior Kolbe Moncree and senior TJ Briley are the cornerbacks. The safeties are a pair of seniors, BJ Lockhart and Calvin Watson.
Bradley Cain, a junior, serves as both the kicker and punter while the long snapper is sophomore Tanner Watson. The punt returner is Jalen Cook with BJ Lockhart, Calvin Watson, and Anthony Bell as the trio of kick returners.
Walker’s Jamboree game will be at home against Catholic High (Baton Rouge) before a challenging season opener at Dutchtown. Three straight at home against Broadmmor, Slidell and Parkview Baptist provide challenges before district play.
A pair of road tests at Scotlandville and at Zachary wait the Wildcats to begin District 4-5A play, with the next three at home versus Belaire, Denham Springs and Live Oak. The regular season ends at Central.
Ricard knows the schedule is tough, and he is well-aware of the improvement of the other two 4-5A teams in the district from Livingston Parish, Denham and Live Oak.
“Bill Conides is like me in his second season, and we got to see his QB Luke play this summer and he’s the real deal so Denham Springs should win more this season. Hopefully one of them isn’t against us,” Ricard said. “Obviously Brett Beard is coming off a quarterfinal appearance last year and has his program in place at Live Oak.”
Ricard continued, “We all know about Scotlandville being a powerhouse, and do not sleep on Central as Sid Edwards always has his team prepared every week.
The Walker Wildcats are talented enough to compete with anyone on their schedule in 2018, but hopefully the injury bug doesn’t hit them so hard this time around.
Click here for more Crescent City Sports high school football team previews.
- < PREV Eastbank Softball two wins away from Louisiana Little League title
- NEXT > Nicholls leads with 14 total selections on 2018 Southland Preseason All-Conference Football Teams
Johnny Marchese is a lifelong resident of Southeast Louisiana, born in New Orleans and raised in Terrytown. Johnny is a 1981 graduate of West Jefferson High School, then after a one year volunteer stint at WWOZ 90.7 FM in New Orleans. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served as a field radio operator. Upon returning from a…