Landry-Walker looks to continue gridiron magic
How do you top a first-ever state championship in a magical season with a transcendent, perhaps once in a lifetime quarterback?
For Landry-Walker head coach Emanuel Powell, that is the dilemma yet a pleasant problem facing him in 2017.
The Charging Buccaneers experienced their dream season in 2016, capturing the Class 5A state championship.
“It was the ultimate goal, to be a state championship,” Powell said. “It is one of the things on your checklist when you begin coaching. The dream came true but we have so much work to do here to progress in showing we are one of the top programs in the state.”
After losing their first two games of the season to powerful John Curtis Christian and eventual Class 4A state champion Karr, the Charging Bucs ripped off 13 straight wins, scoring 40 or more points in each game, including 50 or more points in all five playoff wins. The run culminated with a convincing 50-21 victory over traditional power West Monroe in the Class 5A state championship game.
Along the way, Landry-Walker averaged 47.5 points per game with Louisiana Player of the Year Keytaon Thompson at the helm.
“I don’t know that is a once in a lifetime experience with Keytaon,” Powell said. “It’s a once in a while story but not a once in a lifetime experience. It will be a little different without him, for sure.”
Thompson is now at Mississippi State while Tevin Bush is at West Virginia, the two primary weapons from a year ago. So, too, are wide receivers Travis Victor and Lamont Berzat.
It is not as though the cupboard is bare in 2017.
Landry-Walker already has five players committed to play college football in 2018, including brilliant wide receiver Devonta Jason (6-3, 210), defensive lineman Josh Smith (6-2, 260) and defensive back Corione Harris (6-1, 170), all of whom are Kansas commits. Defensive back Curry Benn (6-0, 170) is a Southern Miss commit and defensive lineman Shamod Sullivan (6-1, 250) is a Jackson State commitment.
“They are an extremely talented core group and we have 16 starters returning from last year’s team,” Powell said. “I think we will be better than a lot of people think.”
Other senior standouts include running back Chad Alexander (5-8, 170), tackle Calvin Legrone (6-2, 280), center Anun Bennett (5-10, 240) and defensive back Tywan Francis (6-0, 185).
Taking over at quarterback is junior Ja’Quan Dorsey (6-0, 180). The other wide receivers are Bobby Morgan (6-0, 170), Jerry Henry (5-10, 170) and Johnny Anderson (6-1, 175). Up front, juniors Khyron Crump (6-2, 300), Lavatus Sims (6-0, 260) and James Jenkins (6-1, 330) are returning starters, making this a very strong area for the Charging Bucs. Junior Tory Cargo (6-2, 175) will also see time at quarterback.
“Offensively, we have seven starters back and we are solid up front,” Powell said. “The line will be very good and the guys around Dorsey will help him grow into the position.”
Up front defensively, senior Tyren Fielder (6-2, 240) returns and will be joined by Kemon Smith (6-2, 280). At linebacker, senior Ernest Simon (6-1, 205) returns and is joined by Jovan Bickham (5-11, 200) and senior Tyrik Baker (5-11, 200). Michael Rhea (5-10, 170) is the other starter in the secondary.
“We have nine starters back on defense,” Powell said. “Our defensive line is one of the best we have had in a long time with Fielder, Sullivan and Smith. It is an outstanding group. We are good in the secondary as well with Harris, Benn, Francis and others.”
Once again, the early schedule is brutal as Landry-Walker hosts John Curtis on Aug. 31 at Behrman Stadium before battling Karr on Sept. 8 and Warren Easton at home on Sept. 15, all of whom are genuine threats to win state championships.
“We feel playing the best early can only make us better as it did last year,” Powell said. “We scrimmaged Evangel and St. Augustine as well and facing Curtis, Karr and Easton will challenge us to make us the team we want to become.”
District 8-5A play opens Sept. 22 at home against East Jefferson before the Charging Bucs face Grace King at Joe Yenni Stadium. Road games at Hoss Memtsas against Higgins and John Ehret follow before a home game with Bonnabel in week eight. Landry-Walker travels back to Hoss Memtsas to face West Jefferson and closes out the season at home on Nov. 3 against Chalmette.
“Our league is always competitive,” Powell said. “Higgins, East Jefferson and West Jefferson have made strides. Chalmette is solid and we know John Ehret has talent. We feel good about our chances but the focus is John Curtis right now.”
While East Jefferson is improved and Chalmette is a worthy opponent, District 8-5A should come down to Landry-Walker and John Ehret. With a host of talented players returning, the Charging Bucs should make another run at a Class 5A state championship with success hinging on how well Dorsey handles filling the massive shoes of Thompson.
“How fast Dorsey matures into the position at quarterback will determine how good and how far we can go,” Powell said.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…