WALKER – Walker High running back Demetri Wright’s a part of the team’s senior class that still remembers the team’s last trip to face Landry-Walker at Behrman Stadium.
Two years later, the memory of a raucous atmosphere and 14-7 loss in the first-round of the Class 5A state playoffs still burn deep.
“It was a tough atmosphere,” Wright recalled. “That was a good team that was flying around the ball and athletic. They had some athletes going D1 and we still played a good game. We made a lot of good plays. We didn’t get to where we wanted to be. We were on the goal line and threw an interception that ended the game.”
Walker returns to face Landry-Walker in a matchup of 1-2 teams at 7 p.m. Friday at Behrman, which is located in Algiers.
Walker’s last trip across the Crescent City Connection provided the Wildcats with a prime opportunity against Landry-Walker, which was the reigning Class 5A state champion.
Walker led 7-0 before giving up a long punt return which led to a touchdown right before halftime. The Wildcats suffered three interceptions and a touchdown to the Chargin’ Buccaneers at the 11:22 mark of the fourth quarter provided the margin of defeat for the Wildcats.
Fast-forward to this season and both teams have suffered consecutive losses with the start of district play looming on the horizon.
“It’s a big road trip because we’ve taken two losses back to back,” Wright said. “We’ve just got to go in there and play quick, fast and hard and as a team to get a win on the road and then come home victorious.”
Walker’s first-year coach Chad Mahaffey didn’t have an extensive look into finding the origin of his team’s downfall the past two weeks.
The Wildcats have encountered difficulty is generating a sustained rushing attack, evidenced by last week’s 57-yard total in a 54-34 road loss to Fontainebleau.
To compound matters, the Wildcats – who were locked in a 21-21 tie at halftime – surrendered 337 yards on the ground and 524 total yards to the Bulldogs, who reeled off 33 second-half points.
“At times we’ve been good against both run and pass and we’ve certainly been bad against both,” Mahaffey said. “The more consistent problem is that we can’t let teams rush for 300-plus yards. We’ve got to do a better job of that and get more hats to the ball, we’ve got to tackle better. We’ve got to do a better job of making them get in a long down and distance situations.”
Senior safety Aubrey Womack leads Walker in tackles with 25, followed by senior linebacker Roger Brooks with 22.
Walker’s rushing attack was hampered somewhat last week by what Mahaffey termed, “blown blocking assignments on the perimeter.”
Wright recaptured the team lead in rushing with 27 carries for 195 yards and 2 TDs, while Keondre Brown adds 142 yards and a TD on 31 attempts.
“We’ve got to do a better job of running the ball better and following the schemes that we put in during the week at practice,” Wright said. “The passing game opens up more holes and helps develop our running game. It gives me and Keondre a bigger role in the game and takes pressure off our wide receivers and Ethan (McMasters) throwing the ball.”
Junior wide receiver/kick return specialist Brian Thomas continued to serve as a beacon of light, amassing 372 all-purpose yards and scoring four of his team’s five touchdowns – returning both a punt and kickoff for scores.
He leads the Wildcats in receiving with 22 catches for 522 yards and 5 TDs.
“We’re 1-2 right now and they have two losses against tough opponents,” Wright said. “We can’t just go in there expecting to win. We’ve got to play our game, play together, play fast and play as a team and we should come out with the win.”